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Debates of the Senate (Hansard)

1st Session, 42nd Parliament
Volume 150, Issue 193

Tuesday, April 17, 2018
The Honourable George J. Furey, Speaker


Tuesday, April 17, 2018

The Senate met at 2 p.m., the Speaker in the chair.


Victims of Tragedy

Humboldt—Silent Tribute

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, we were all deeply saddened and shocked to learn of the tragic bus crash on April 6, which has resulted in the loss of life of 16 people related to the Humboldt Broncos, and the injuring of 13 others. I know that senators have expressed their support for the grieving families and community, and will continue to do so. I would ask you to rise in a minute of silence in memory of the victims of this tragedy.

(Honourable senators then stood in silent tribute.)



Humboldt Tragedy


The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I know that many senators wish to speak about the Humboldt tragedy. I understand that there is therefore agreement to extend the time for statements to 30 minutes. Is this agreed?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.


Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): Honourable senators, there is little to compare with the energy and exuberance of a group of young people in the prime of their lives.

Teenagers and young adults can fill a room with the ready confidence that the world is theirs to claim. Put them together on a team, on skates, and in an arena, and you have inspiration and excitement.

We can imagine the Humboldt Broncos as they boarded the bus to go to another tournament — a familiar ritual for this team. Tournament travel was part of their lives. Bus rides meant jokes and YouTube videos being shared, stops at Tim Hortons, and occasional moments of quiet and perhaps sleep.

All of us, who were once young, who have children and grandchildren, can easily imagine this scene. What we can’t possibly imagine is what happened next on the road to Nipawin for the Humboldt Broncos.

For the loss and for those who are injured in body and in spirit, we pray for you. For the families and friends of those who lost their lives, we grieve with you. And for the whole community of Humboldt, we hold you in our hearts. We cannot imagine the raw pain of each moment of each day for you.

The late American poet Maya Angelou wrote once:

I have a son, who is my heart. A wonderful young man, daring and loving and strong and kind.

The last week has shown that the sons and daughters of Humboldt are held in hearts across Canada. In these moments of pain, we hope that the love of a nation helps you find fleeting instances of light as you move forward in mourning and healing.

Hon. Larry W. Smith (Leader of the Opposition): It is with a heavy heart that I rise today to offer my condolences to the families, friends and community members of the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team.

Together we grieve as a country. Together we mourn the tragic loss of the Humboldt Broncos athletes and support team taken too soon.

Such situations are beyond our capacity to understand. We all struggle with the difficult reality that these young athletes — at the prime of their game — will not get more ice time.


As soon as Canadians heard about this terrible accident, they came together to offer support and encouragement, as a country, to all those affected by the tragedy.


We have seen entire neighbourhoods with hockey sticks on their front porches. We have seen jerseys worn by so many last Thursday, and we have seen the generosity of Canadians.


To the families and friends who have been faced with the impossible loss of a dear loved one, may you find peace and comfort in knowing that the country mourns with you, and know that we will not forget your loved ones.

To the survivors who have witnessed the horrors of this accident, may you find strength and support to properly heal from this ordeal. Stay strong, and when you are faced with times of doubt, know that the people of Canada await your recovery and well-being.

To the first responders and medical professionals, thank you for your bravery. Your courageous actions under circumstances unimaginable to most of us do not go unnoticed.

To all those impacted, from small towns to big cities, dedicated hockey lovers and teammates, brothers, sisters and parents everywhere, remember that Canada is built on strong communities. Whether you are in Saskatchewan or elsewhere, know that you are not alone. The entire country shares your pain.

Sport is what brings us together. It is where champions are born, but more important, where teammates become family.

Our thoughts and prayers are with you all.

Hon. Yuen Pau Woo: Colleagues, I remember the moment when I first learned the news of the Humboldt bus accident, scrolling through my news feed on my iPad. I saw it first as perhaps a routine traffic accident. But it took only a few seconds to realize that this was no routine traffic accident.

The first reports already had casualties — deaths — in the low teens. As we know, in the days to follow, more passed away. This terrible accident will be marked as a day of great sadness, not just for the people of Saskatchewan and the families affected, but for all of Canada.

In the aftermath of this tragic accident, we see some silver linings in the outpouring of sympathy and support from across the country. In my own province, a group of hockey mothers organized Jersey Day, an event in which many senators, Senate administration and staff participated. I was most impressed that morning during my short commute to the local store to see children on their way to school wearing hockey jerseys. Commuters driving to work or taking the bus were wearing hockey jerseys. The server in my local coffee shop was wearing a hockey jersey, and even the cashiers at Canadian Tire were wearing hockey jerseys.

It is a testament to how deeply this accident has affected the Canadian psyche and how much we feel for the affected families and friends.

In addition, we know that Canadians and folks from around the world have rallied through a GoFundMe campaign that was created by a Humboldt hockey parent. It has already raised $12 million in donations.

On behalf of the Independent Senators Group, I would like to convey our deepest condolences to the affected families and friends, and to give encouragement to the survivors that we will be with them to support them and their aspirations from here on.

Thank you.

Hon. Joseph A. Day (Leader of the Senate Liberals): Honourable colleagues, the scene is the same in hockey communities across Canada. Boys and girls, young men and young women, their coaches and team staff board the buses that transport them to away games and tournaments. From small towns and big cities, our sons and daughters travel by bus on the highways and rural roads that criss-cross our vast country.

But as every Canadian knows, on April 6, tragedy struck one of these everyday scenes. A transport truck collided with the bus carrying the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League Humboldt Broncos just north of Tisdale, Saskatchewan. One moment, they were excitedly on their way to a playoff game in Nipawin; the next moment brought a terrible accident in which 16 people ultimately lost their lives, 13 others were seriously injured, and their families were forever shattered.

In the days that followed, Canadians all struggled with the loss. But in tragedy, the country has united behind the injured survivors and the families of those lost in the town of Humboldt. Since that dreadful day, Canadians from coast to coast to coast have come together to show their support for a community and province in mourning, leaving hockey sticks on porches, wearing sports jerseys to work and school, and donating millions of dollars to help families cope with their unimaginable loss.

Honourable senators, we all share in Humboldt’s grief, just as we did 10 years ago when seven members of the Bathurst High School Phantoms basketball team and their teacher lost their lives in a horrific collision on a snow-covered highway in my home province of New Brunswick.

On behalf of the Independent Liberals in the Senate, I would like to extend our deepest condolences to the families, friends and loved ones of the 16 individuals taken by this tragedy. I also offer our support and good wishes to the injured and their families. I hope that our thoughts and prayers will help strengthen them as they begin to rebuild their lives.

Hon. Pamela Wallin: Honourable senators, I stand today with love in my heart for the friends and neighbours in Humboldt and in the many small towns across the Prairies that sent their boys to realize a dream and reach for greatness. The thing is, in small towns, everybody knows somebody who has been touched. My nephew played with several of the boys. Every kid rides a bus to school, to hockey, to volleyball and to camp.

In this chamber today, we mourn alongside the families who have lost their loved ones, and we pray for those families still sitting vigil at hospital bedsides.

Amidst the grief, there were so many poignant moments: the broken Slap Shot DVD found near the bus, or the inspirational act of 21-year-old Logan Boulet, who emphatically signed his organ donor registry card shortly after his birthday. He did not know that weeks later, his extraordinary selfless act would be giving the gift of life to six people. As his godfather, Neil Langevin, said, “These actions alone give voice to the selfless and benevolent nature Logan possessed in life.” And Logan has inspired many Canadians to sign their organ donor registry card since.

Then Canadians put their sticks out in support of the Broncos. It swept the country and my hometown of Wadena. Everybody had a stick outside their front door, and farmers even placed them along the highway. There was also Jersey Day, when our country showed support by wearing the Broncos colours or a local team jersey.

Think also of the astounding number of donations to the GoFundMe, initially set up by Sylvie and Cailin to raise a few dollars for coffee and food for the families as they awaited news. Now it’s over $12 million.

In any tragedy, humanity always shines through. That spirit helps all of us cope with the pain and the loss, and this time is no different.

I’d like to say a word about the first responders. They work professionally through heartbreak and hell to save lives. To them we extend our respect and our gratitude. To the volunteers and faith leaders who continue to heal the hearts of the emotionally broken, thank you. To the Mayor of Humboldt, Rob Muench, with whom I met last week, I say thank you for the ability to say the things that so many are feeling and for being a powerful voice for our communities.

This week, across the Prairies, more funerals and tributes will take place, and families will begin the long road of healing.


I want to say to the Humboldt Broncos community and the families affected that once the cameras are gone and the hockey season comes to an end, we will still be there for you. We know the hard work and the difficult decisions that will have to be faced, and that will require immense courage.

As Broncos President Kevin Garinger said, “If there is any light shining through this dark time, it has come in the form of love for one another.”

So a final thought, the words of a wise person:

There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition and of unspeakable love.

Hon. A. Raynell Andreychuk: Honourable senators, it was first shock, then horror, then grief as we heard of the tragic bus crash carrying the Humboldt Broncos to a game in Nipawin.

Our thoughts and prayers continue with the players, the families and the friends of those who have passed away, those who were injured and all in the Humboldt Broncos community as they struggle with this tragedy.

For those who know Humboldt, as I do, it is a community that takes pride in its people and takes responsibility for its people in good times and in difficulties. In this tragedy, one saw how quickly the community came together.

Appreciation to the first responders, police, firefighters, doctors and many others cannot be overstated across Saskatchewan. Distances to services were far, but response time was swift and courageous. Stories of kindness, generosity and compassion continue to emerge daily, from volunteers collecting donations to restaurants distributing food. This marks a true testament to the resilience of the Humboldt community.

Allow me to share with you the words of Dean Brockman, the former Broncos head coach:

The overwhelming response to this accident affirms the character of the Saskatchewan people. While hockey may not run as deep in some veins as others, many have found connections to Humboldt or to the people involved. Others have simply opened their hearts. Saskatchewan is quick to share the burden when adversity strikes.

Across our nation, Canadians have been equally moved by this devastating tragedy. It was our Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe who said:

As challenging as this is, the support and prayers are felt by the people in Humboldt, and are felt by the people of Saskatchewan and we’re so thankful for them.

Let us continue to ask ourselves how we may support the community in the coming days and all those who have been impacted. Let us follow their positive example of courage and action to overcome this horrific accident together. The road to recovery is long, but it has started, and the healing will be ahead with all of Canada with them.

Hon. Denise Batters: Honourable senators, Senator Tkachuk asked me to read his Humboldt Broncos statement as he is unable to be here due to inclement weather. I will follow his brief statement with my own.

From Senator Tkachuk:

Our true character is revealed by how we handle ourselves in the midst of adversity. How we deal with difficult circumstance says more about who we are than how we behave when times are easy.

No one was prepared for what happened to the Humboldt Broncos hockey team on the evening of April 6. Sixteen young lives, almost all ended in an instant. It is beyond comprehension.

Yet the Saskatchewan community came together in the aftermath of that tragedy like nothing I have ever experienced. And so did Canadians across the country.

I attended the vigil on Sunday in Humboldt to honour those who lost their lives and those who were injured. The hockey arena where it took place was filled to capacity and overflowed into a school gym and a curling rink, both with video feed.

I was particularly struck by the leadership shown by the President of the Broncos, Kevin Garinger, and the Mayor of Humboldt, Rob Muench. Each of them, in the midst of overwhelming grief, in the midst of immeasurable adversity, showed compassion, grace and empathy without ever sounding trite or resorting to cliché. Each of them showed leadership. It is the kind of leadership that will help their community get back on its feet.

May God bless those young people so cruelly taken from their families, the injured in hospital, the Humboldt Broncos organization and the City of Humboldt.

And here are my thoughts. Hockey is woven into the fabric of our nation — part of our Canadian identity. It is the glue that bonds many rural communities together, especially on the Canadian Prairies. So when a horrific accident happens that takes the lives of 16 young people from a junior hockey team on a rural highway in Saskatchewan, it strikes at our very core as Canadians.

The loss of young teammates, their coaches and personnel seems somehow especially cruel. Young athletes are supposed to be invincible.

As renowned Regina sportscaster Rod Pedersen said:

I didn’t know those Humboldt Broncos players personally, but I knew them.

Junior hockey players are all the same and they’re my favourite people on the planet. Positive, happy, and full of life.

As Canadians, that staggering loss of life and of so much promise has moved us profoundly. Last week, the population of the small Saskatchewan City of Humboldt grew from 6,000 to 36 million strong. Our arms have embraced the Humboldt Broncos with support from coast to coast. Canadians have put their “Sticks Out for Humboldt,” donned jerseys for “Jersey Day” and donated an incredible $12 million for the Broncos GoFundMe page. All of Canada supports these young teammates, their families and their communities, and we wish them strength in the days and months to come.

Honourable senators, we in Saskatchewan have often proudly proclaimed that our Saskatchewan Roughriders are Canada’s team. But right now, I know our province would find it appropriate to give that beautiful title to the Humboldt Broncos — Canada’s team.

Hon. Jim Munson: Honourable senators, I want to thank Senator Jaffer for giving me her time. I want to talk about two of the persons who died; Brody Hinz, who was a volunteer statistician for the Humboldt Broncos, and of course Tyler Bieber, the play-by-play announcer.

Brody had Asperger’s. He was a volunteer statistician and worked with Tyler Bieber to put all the stats together. He was on the bus. Brody was a member of the Special Olympics as well. He bowled and played floor hockey. “He was a remarkable young man,” said the minister of the Humboldt Westminster United Church, Brenda Curtis. “He gave us so much.” Brody was a remarkable young man, diagnosed with Asperger’s, a high-functioning form of autism. “He was brilliant,” she said.

She remembered when he was 6 years old, watching a TV newscast and there was a weather report. Shortly after the weather report he put up his own chalkboard and recited every city, province and temperatures, and her jaw almost hit the floor.

Brody was very much part of the church. His father died when he was young. He was full of life, they say. And as a boy in church, according to the Saskatoon StarPhoenix, instead of singing to the hymns, he danced. He loved to dance. He loosened everyone up in the congregation. Later, as a teen, he helped teach Sunday school and the kids adored him.

One thing about him, which is really interesting, at the beginning of the Humboldt Broncos season he was looking at stats. He put all the stats together about the Vegas Golden Knights, and he said, “That team will be a contender in the Stanley Cup.” Well, guess what, the Vegas Golden Knights are 3-0 in the first round. So you know what? I’m going to wear a Humboldt Broncos shirt. I’m going to wear a Las Vegas shirt if they win the Stanley Cup. This would be a wonderful thing.

He worked with Tyler, who was a play-by-play announcer. And I want to say a couple of words because at the end, understanding and having played Junior B Hockey and senior hockey in northern New Brunswick and having been on buses and in those snowstorms, and remembering the Bathurst High School team, and just being out there with your comrades and out there in a snowstorm, you always expect to come home. You always expect to come home.

I not only played hockey, but I also did play-by-play announcing for the Papermakers. I mentioned in the Senate before that we had a little boy, who would have been a Special Olympian, but he died at the age of 1. I was actually doing the play-by-play for the Bathurst Papermakers when my son died, and he was almost a year old.


So when this happened, you can imagine what you feel with the loss of a child. No matter whether your son is one or your son is 18, it still hurts, and I want to acknowledge the team and those who are recovering right now. And my thoughts are with the Hinz family and the Bieber family. They are very special to me.

Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, I rise today with a heavy heart to speak on the terrible tragedy that struck our nation on Friday, April 6, 2018, in rural Saskatchewan. Among the lives lost in the crash are many young players, one as young as 16 years old, their coach, a play-by-play radio announcer, an 18-year-old statistics keeper, a bus driver and an athletic therapist.

The death toll increased on Wednesday when Dayna Brons, the athletic therapist for the Humboldt Broncos, died.

Dayna had been listed in critical condition since last Friday’s crash outside Tisdale, Saskatchewan. Her family previously said she had undergone two surgeries and was in a medically induced coma due to serious head trauma. Dayna grew up on a farm near Lake Lenore, Saskatchewan. She studied at the University of Regina. She completed the athletic therapy program at Mount Royal University in Calgary in 2016. She joined the Broncos as an athletic therapist and equipment manager in the summer of 2016, and she had previously worked for a lacrosse team in Saskatoon.

On Wednesday, April 11, our country kept mourning as Dayna’s family announced her passing, and in a statement her family said, “Dayna will be forever remembered for her joyful smile, and her passion and love of sport.”

Honourable senators, not only are the Canadian hockey and sport communities terribly saddened by the loss of those 16 lives, but the whole world is mourning. In my country of birth of Uganda, hundreds of children are able to walk because hockey teams across Canada have generously sponsored their surgeries. On social media, I was touched by seeing a picture of a young Ugandan boy wearing an Oakville Rangers hockey jersey and holding a sign which said, “Humboldt Strong, Sending Love from Uganda.”

My thoughts and prayers go out to those grieving due to the tragedy, including the injured, first responders, family, friends, staff and everyone in the communities affected.

Honourable senators, this tragedy is more than the 16 accomplished young men and women that we lost. It’s more than the grief that is shared between players and the team and the families. It is about knowing that as a society, as Canadians, we can lean on each other in hard times. I know I speak for all senators: To the families of the Humboldt Broncos, we feel your pain and want you to know that you are in our thoughts and prayers.

We are all Humboldt Strong.

Hon. Betty Unger: Honourable colleagues, for the last 11 days, stories about a horrific accident that took the lives of several young players and others from the Humboldt Broncos hockey team have filled the airwaves and the newspapers. Details of the terrible accident have become very familiar to all of us, and many tears have been shed by people who have never met.

It has been heart-wrenching to hear the details emerge as parents, survivors, friends and first responders shared their stories. The pain, the loss, the broken lives, there are no words to capture the depth of heartache experienced by families and friends who have loved their loved ones forever.

Many communities have been directly impacted by the accident, including in my home province of Alberta.

Six of the 10 players who lost their lives in the accident were from Alberta. Conner Lukan was from Slave Lake and spent three seasons playing hockey with the Spruce Grove Saints. Jaxon Joseph, was from Edmonton, the son of former Edmonton Oilers player Chris Joseph. Logan Hunter and Stephen Wack were from St. Albert. Parker Tobin was from Stony Plain. And Logan Boulet, who had just turned 21 and had signed his organ donor card, was from Lethbridge. The team’s head coach, Darcy Haugan, also lost his life in the crash, and he was originally from the Peace River region in northern Alberta.

Nine others lost their lives in the crash as well, including four players and six staff members from Saskatchewan.

Nothing can be said to restore what has been lost. But in the midst of all the darkness there have been rays of light, and those rays of light are the overwhelming response of Canadians from coast to coast to coast sending their support, prayers and well wishes.

The money raised from around the globe in the GoFundMe campaign will be put to good use for some of the survivors and all of the families who have suffered so much. The hockey sticks, the jerseys, and today there is a memorial service in Edmonton, sponsored by the Edmonton Oilers, and thousands are expected to attend.

To all those grieving the loss of their loved ones, to those who are recovering, and to all the first responders who are dealing with the memory of what you experienced that day, we want you to know that our thoughts, our hearts and our prayers are with you.

Stay strong my friends — Humboldt Strong.

Hon. Leo Housakos: Honourable senators, I rise to join with all of you, colleagues, in recognizing the victims of the most horrific of tragedies that occurred on a Saskatchewan road just over one week ago, the tragedy of the Humboldt Broncos.

At the time of the terrible crash that claimed the lives of 16 people, my wife, Demi, and I, as hockey parents ourselves, couldn’t imagine the level of pain and anguish the parents of everyone on that bus were going through.

My boys have both spent probably half their lives on buses, chasing their hockey dreams. Even now as they both live away from home playing the game they love, we worry about them when they’re on the road.

We were blessed to have them home with us that weekend, and we could tell that they were deeply impacted by what happened. It really did make the loss of life hit home for us. And it isn’t only the immediate families of everyone on that bus who are suffering from the loss of their lives. It’s also the community of Humboldt, the billet families, the fans of the team. It is a tremendous punch to the gut of our entire community and our entire country.

My heart also went out to the first responders on the scene that night. As you all know, I’m the sponsor of a private member’s bill focusing on PTSD among first responders, and I couldn’t help thinking about the police, paramedics and firefighters who were the first on the scene that night outside of Tisdale. We owe them a great deal of gratitude.

I saw a tweet the next day from former NHL player Sheldon Kennedy thanking the first responders, and I saw an interview with him where he described the long-term impacts of this tragedy on him and on everyone involved. He knows first-hand, having lived through something similar a few years back.

I just wanted to take a moment to send my deepest condolences to the family and friends who lost loved ones on that night, as well as to those who are at the bedsides of those still recovering. And I want to take an opportunity to thank and comfort the men and women who were first responders on the scene that night, and all of the medical personnel who have worked tirelessly in the days since.

You are all Humboldt Strong.

Visitors in the Gallery

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I wish to draw your attention to the presence in the gallery of Ambassador Rosemary McCarney, the Canadian Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva. She is the guest of the Honourable Senator McPhedran.

On behalf of all honourable senators, I welcome you to the Senate of Canada.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I wish to draw your attention to the presence in the gallery of Jeannette Corbiere Lavell, Yvonne Bedard, Dr. Sharon McIvor and Dr. Lynn Gehl. They are the guests of the Honourable Senator McPhedran.

On behalf of all honourable senators, I welcome you to the Senate of Canada.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!



Equality Day

Hon. Marilou McPhedran: Honourable senators, I rise today to pay tribute to six Indigenous women who have made their mark on Canada’s history. These leaders made a name for themselves in Canada and internationally by speaking out against injustices in the Indian Act, some of which are still present today.


These six Indigenous women, recognized today in the chamber, continue to advocate, stand up and fight for the rights of Indigenous women and their descendants under Canadian law.

Senators, today is Equality Day, recognizing the significance of Canada’s Constitution Act 1982 being brought home 36 years ago today, with its entrenched Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Through their perseverance and tenacious strength, the Indigenous Famous Six teach us how to uphold the truth and undo injustices perpetrated by some of our laws to this day.

Some of us have asked why we named them the Famous Six. Well, colleagues, this is based on words of the visionary Famous Five feminists in the Persons Case that opened the Senate to women, honoured by the statues erected on Parliament Hill just metres away from our Senate entrance.

The Indigenous Famous Six represent the movement for Indigenous women’s equality using the law, starting in the 1970s with Ms. Jeannette Corbiere Lavell and Ms. Yvonne Bédard and Senator Sandra Lovelace Nicholas, and into the 1980s, 1990s and now, Dr. Sharon McIvor, Dr. Lynn Gehl and Senator Lillian Dyck.

Colleagues, today is historic. Not only does it mark Ms. Yvonne Bédard’s eightieth birthday, but it brings together these strong, devoted and powerful women to honour their fight for justice and equality, because it is our fight too.

Tonight, in room 160-S, I’m honoured to co-host with Senators Joyal, Pate and Boyer and other members of Parliament the Famous Six at a celebratory reception. I invite you to join us as our Canadian Ambassador to the UN in Geneva graciously plans to do. Her Excellency Rosemary McCarney, with us today, will be bringing greetings to the Famous Six this evening. She stands with us allies in the fight for lived rights of gender equality. Ambassador McCarney demonstrates leadership to promote peace and women’s rights at the UN in Geneva, and she has long been a strong advocate in Canada for women and girls and their rights.

To conclude, I hope you will find the time to drop by to salute the Famous Six and that you too will be inspired, as I have been, by their resilience, these visionary women warriors. Thank you, meegwetch.

Visitor in the Gallery

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I wish to draw your attention to the presence in the gallery of Ms. Fiona Patten, the Upper House Member for the North Metropolitan Region in the Victorian Parliament of Australia. She is the guest of the Honourable Senator Campbell.

On behalf of all honourable senators, I welcome you to the Senate of Canada.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!



Canadian Human Rights Tribunal

2017 Report Tabled

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal for the year 2017, pursuant to the Canadian Human Rights Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. H-6, sbs. 61(4).



Charter Statement in Relation to Bill C-75—Document Tabled

Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, a Charter Statement prepared by the Minister of Justice in relation to Bill C-75, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, Youth Criminal Justice Act and other Acts and to make consequential amendments to other Acts.


Treasury Board

2018-19 Departmental Plans Tabled

Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the Departmental Plans for 2018-19.


The Estimates, 2018-19

Parts I and II Tabled

Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): Honourable senators, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the Main Estimates, for the year 2018-19, Parts I and II: The Government Expenditure Plan and Main Estimates.


Study on the Effects of Transitioning to a Low Carbon Economy

Thirteenth Report of Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources Committee Deposited with Clerk during Adjournment of the Senate

Hon. Rosa Galvez: Honourable senators, I have the honour to inform the Senate that pursuant to the orders adopted by the Senate on March 10, 2016, and March 29, 2018, the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources deposited with the Clerk of the Senate on April 3, 2018, its thirteenth report (interim) entitled Decarbonizing Heavy Industry.

Salaries Act
Financial Administration Act

Bill to Amend—Twenty-eighth Report of National Finance Committee Presented

Hon. Percy Mockler, Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance, presented the following report:

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

The Standing Senate Committee on National Finance has the honour to present its


Your committee, to which was referred Bill C-24, An Act to amend the Salaries Act and to make a consequential amendment to the Financial Administration Act, has, in obedience to the order of reference of March 21, 2018, examined the said bill and now reports the same without amendment.

Respectfully submitted,



The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be read the third time?

(On motion of Senator Harder, bill placed on the Orders of the Day for third reading at the next sitting of the Senate.)

The Estimates, 2018-19

Notice of Motion to Authorize the Joint Committee on the Library of Parliament to Study Vote 1 of the Main Estimates

Hon. Diane Bellemare (Legislative Deputy to the Government Representative in the Senate): Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:

That the Standing Joint Committee on the Library of Parliament be authorized to examine and report upon the expenditures set out in Library of Parliament Vote 1 of the Main Estimates for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2019; and

That a message be sent to the House of Commons to acquaint that House accordingly.


Notice of Motion to Authorize National Finance Committee to Study Main Estimates

Hon. Diane Bellemare (Legislative Deputy to the Government Representative in the Senate): Honourable senators, I give notice that, at the next sitting of the Senate, I will move:

That the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance be authorized to examine and report upon the expenditures set out in the Main Estimates for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2019, with the exception of Library of Parliament Vote 1; and

That, for the purpose of this study, the committee have the power to sit, even though the Senate may then be sitting, with rule 12-18(1) being suspended in relation thereto.

Fisheries and Oceans

Committee Authorized to Meet During Sitting of the Senate

Hon. Fabian Manning: Honourable senators, with leave of the Senate and notwithstanding rule Rule 5-5(a), I move:

That the Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans have the power to meet on Tuesday, April 17, 2018, at 5:30 p.m., even though the Senate may then be sitting, and that rule 12-18(1) be suspended in relation thereto.

The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted, honourable senators?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Motion agreed to.)


The Hon. the Speaker: Any question or debate, Senator Manning?

Senator Manning: I wish to let senators know that we have a witness before our committee this evening who is visiting from McLean, Virginia. She is here in Ottawa right now, so we felt the need to accommodate her opportunity to present to us.


Business of the Senate

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, pursuant to the motion adopted in this chamber Thursday, March 29, 2018, Question Period will take place at 3:30 p.m.

Answers to Order Paper Questions Tabled

Health—Proposed Approach to the Regulation of Cannabis

Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate) tabled the reply to Question No. 70, dated February 6, 2018, appearing on the Order Paper and Notice Paper in the name of the Honourable Senator Seidman, regarding Health Canada’s consultation document Proposed Approach to the Regulation of Cannabis (Health Canada).

Treasury Board—Proposed Approach to the Regulation of Cannabis

Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate) tabled the reply to Question No. 70, dated February 6, 2018, appearing on the Order Paper and Notice Paper in the name of the Honourable Senator Seidman, regarding Health Canada’s consultation document Proposed Approach to the Regulation of Cannabis (Treasury Board).

Health—Ongoing Digital Campaign About the Health Impacts of Cannabis

Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate) tabled the reply to Question No. 71, dated February 6, 2018, appearing on the Order Paper and Notice Paper in the name of the Honourable Senator Seidman, regarding the ongoing digital campaign about the health impacts of cannabis.

Health—Packaging and Labelling Proposals Described in the Health Canada document Entitled Proposed Approach to the Regulation of Cannabis

Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate) tabled the reply to Question No. 72, dated February 6, 2018, appearing on the Order Paper and Notice Paper in the name of the Honourable Senator Seidman, regarding the packaging and labelling proposals described in the Health Canada document entitled Proposed Approach to the Regulation of Cannabis.

Health—Security and Safety Requirements of Craft Licenses with Respect to Bill C-45

Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate) tabled the reply to Question No. 73, dated February 7, 2018, appearing on the Order Paper and Notice Paper in the name of the Honourable Senator Smith, regarding security and safety requirements of craft licenses with respect to Bill C-45.

National Revenue—Canada Child Benefit

Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate) tabled the reply to Question No. 78, dated February 8, 2018, appearing on the Order Paper and Notice Paper in the name of the Honourable Senator Downe, regarding the Canada Child Benefit.

Delayed Answers to Oral Questions

Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): Honourable senators, I have the honour to table the answers to the following oral questions:

Response to the oral question asked in the Senate on January 31, 2018 by the Honourable Senator Downe, concerning Senate vacancies.

Response to the oral question asked in the Senate on February 8, 2018 by the Honourable Senator Carignan, P.C., concerning lobbying.

Response to the oral question asked in the Senate on February 8, 2018 by the Honourable Senator Downe, concerning Confederation Bridge — bridge tolls.

Response to the oral question asked in the Senate on February 14, 2018 by the Honourable Senator Maltais, concerning minority language rights.

Response to the oral question asked in the Senate on February 14, 2018 by the Honourable Senator Carignan, P.C., concerning minority language rights.

Response to the oral question asked in the Senate on February 14, 2018 by the Honourable Senator Wallin, concerning RCMP vacancies.

Response to the oral question asked in the Senate on February 14, 2018 by the Honourable Senator Marshall, concerning funding for literacy programs.

Response to the oral question asked in the Senate on February 15, 2018 by the Honourable Senator Housakos, concerning the statistics of cannabis usage.

Response to the oral question asked in the Senate on February 28, 2018 by the Honourable Senator Housakos, concerning the Champlain Bridge.

Response to the oral question asked in the Senate on February 28, 2018 by the Honourable Senator Carignan, P.C., concerning the 2018 budget.

Response to the oral question asked in the Senate on February 28, 2018 by the Honourable Senator Maltais, concerning the icebreaker fleet.

Response to the oral question asked in the Senate on February 28, 2018 by the Honourable Senator Doyle, concerning fishing quotas.

Privy Council Office

Senate Vacancies

(Response to question raised by the Honourable Percy E. Downe on January 31, 2018)

On February 21, 2018 the Government announced a series of improvements to the way Canadians can apply for a seat in the Senate. Improvements announced include: keeping applications open year-round; retaining applications for two years, so that Canadians can be considered for future appointments; and organizations or individuals now have the ability to nominate potential candidates.

Canadians now have more opportunities than ever before to apply or to encourage others to apply.

The Government has kept its commitment to restore Canadians’ trust and increase participation in Canada’s democratic processes. In 2016, the Government introduced a new, non-partisan and merit-based process for Canadians to apply for the Senate. Since then, 33 new Senators have been appointed under this new process. In doing so, the Government is respecting the constitutional framework and ensuring that provinces and territories have an important role in the process.

The Government also announced that it is seeking to fill vacancies in all provinces and territories with current or planned vacancies in 2018. Applications received by April 3, 2018 from Canadians residing in these 10 provinces and territories will be assessed by the Independent Advisory Board for Senate Appointments (Advisory Board) in the next applications review cycle. Canadians are encouraged to apply online before the deadline of April 3, 2018.

The Government is establishing an Advisory Board for Alberta, British Columbia, Newfoundland and Labrador, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Saskatchewan and Yukon.

Canadians can contact the Advisory Board during regular office hours by phone or by submitting a form on its website. All questions are answered by the appropriate authority, depending on the nature of the comment or inquiry. In addition, the Advisory Board recently updated and improved its website, adding a number of new questions and answers to help Canadians better understand the process.


(Response to question raised by the Honourable Claude Carignan on February 8, 2018)

As it has been said many times already, creative industries are going through a period of disruption brought on by the digital shift.

The Minister of Canadian Heritage has met with all major digital platforms as part of the review of Canadian content in the digital age.

Ms. Church’s expertise and broad knowledge of the digital landscape is essential in our assessment of how to best support the sector during this transition. She has been fully transparent about her former employment with Google Canada, including with the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner.


Confederation Bridge—Bridge Tolls

(Response to question raised by the Honourable Percy E. Downe on February 8, 2018)

The Government of Canada recognizes the importance of the Confederation Bridge for the economy of the region while ensuring a permanent connection with the mainland.

The Confederation Bridge is a federally-owned asset and the Government of Canada has an agreement with Strait Crossing Bridge Limited (SCBL) to operate the Bridge until 2032. Under the operating agreement, the Bridge Operator has the authority to amend the tolling structure and rates. The tolling structure and rates are in compliance with the provisions of the agreement.

Transport Canada will evaluate options for the Confederation Bridge operations well in advance of the end of the current agreement scheduled for 2032. Transport Canada intends to respect its agreement with SCBL.

Official Languages

Minority Language Rights

(Response to question raised by the Honourable Ghislain Maltais on February 14, 2018)

The Government is strongly committed to fostering the full recognition and use of both official languages and to enhancing the vitality of both official language minority communities throughout Canada. The Government therefore recognizes the importance of minority language education rights under section 23 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Charter).

Education is a matter of provincial jurisdiction. Section 23 of the Charter imposes obligations on the provinces and territories for the implementation of section 23 within their respective jurisdictions.

The Department of Canadian Heritage (Canadian Heritage) provides financial support to the provinces and territories to assist them in meeting their obligations under section 23 of the Charter.

As part of the development of the Protocol for Agreements for Minority-Language Education and Second-Language Instruction for 2018-2023, Canadian Heritage held consultations with provincial and territorial representatives and with minority school boards. Canadian Heritage consulted with representatives of the Saskatchewan Department of Education and Department of Advanced Education. In addition, Canadian Heritage held a separate meeting with the Conseil des écoles fransaskoises (CÉF) on October 31, 2016.

On July 7, 2016, the CÉF also participated in the Regina Roundtable consultation on the next Action Plan for Official Languages (2018-2023).

Canadian Heritage

Minority Language Rights

(Response to question raised by the Honourable Claude Carignan on February 14, 2018)

The Government of Canada recognizes the important role news media play in Canadian democracy, notably for official language minority communities. As the Minister said last September the Canada Periodical Fund will be modernized to be better adapted to new preferences of Canadians for digital platforms. Minority francophone newspapers such as La Liberté and Acadie Nouvelle will continue to receive funding from the Department of Canadian Heritage. It should be noted that 14 of these community newspapers have received nearly $700,000 in 2017-18.

Our Government knows that there is no easy way to address the current challenges that print media is facing, and has indicated that any governmental action must respect journalistic independence. Budget 2018 introduces an initiative to support local news aimed at increasing journalistic coverage in underserved communities. To this end, the Government proposes to provide $50 million over five years, starting in 2018-2019, to one or more independent non-governmental organizations that will support local journalism in underserved communities. The budget also indicates that we will continue exploring new models that can provide support to journalism and local news. As well, Budget 2018 announced that the Action Plan for Official Languages, which was recently made public, includes new funding to support French and English language minority community radio stations and newspapers.

As for the Copyright Act, the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology (INDU) launched the mandated review of the Act on December 13, 2017. The review will provide an opportunity for parliamentarians to consider issues such as the one you raise.

Public Safety

RCMP Vacancies

(Response to question raised by the Honourable Pamela Wallin on February 14, 2018)

Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP)

The Government works with provinces and territories to ensure that the RCMP has the resources it needs where Canadians need them. While the RCMP is the service provider, the level of policing services, as well as objectives and priorities, are determined by the contracting jurisdiction.

The projected regular member (RM) vacancy rate for contract policing in F Division is 4.3% on April 1, 2018.

The Protection and Response Team is comprised of 120 officers, including 86 from the RCMP and 34 from municipal police services. Of the 86 RCMP positions, 20 remain to be staffed in 2018.

F Division has implemented a number of initiatives and staffing strategies to address vacancies and combat crime. It increased the Reserve program to 25, the maximum allowable number pursuant to section 7(2) of the RCMP Regulations, 2014. Division F also redirected five RMs to the Relief Unit, a team of highly-mobile, experienced members who can quickly deploy to locations experiencing temporary staffing shortages, or requiring additional uniformed support; it established a Divisional Crime Reduction Team to conduct targeted enforcement efforts in various detachment areas, focusing on drugs, firearms and general crime; and it is working with the Community Safety Officer Program to investigate low-risk, not-in-progress Criminal Code offences such as vandalism or theft under $5,000, or certain non-injury motor vehicle collisions, in order to free up RCMP members to focus on more serious crimes.

Response times vary based on the volume of calls, the level of urgency, the distance to be covered, and other factors. The RCMP aims to handle all calls as quickly as possible.

Families, Children and Social Development

Funding for Literacy Programs

(Response to question raised by the Honourable Elizabeth Marshall on February 14, 2018)

Employment and Social Development Canada

Through Employment and Social Development Canada’s (ESDC) literacy and essential skills program, the Government is making strategic investments to help broaden sustainable public access to literacy and essential skills training. For past projects, funding has been distributed based on an open call for proposals. A number of these projects will be conducting activities in Newfoundland and Labrador and partnering with local organizations. For example, the Literacy Coalition of New Brunswick is partnering with the Newfoundland and Labrador Laubach Literacy Council to develop blended training, with online and classroom components, focused on the needs of job-seekers in the fishing industry.

The Department recognizes the need to focus attention on literacy and essential skills improvements in Newfoundland and Labrador. Over the past year, ESDC has been proactively working with provincial and territorial governments, including Newfoundland and Labrador, to develop projects for funding in 2018-2019, that will be responsive to areas of priorities identified by provincial and territorial partners. Respecting that provinces and territories are primarily responsible for skills training, the Department is committed to ensuring that federal literacy and essential skills initiatives complement provincial and territorial efforts and address priority gaps in order to improve services for Newfoundlanders and all Canadians.


Statistics of Cannabis Usage

(Response to question raised by the Honourable Leo Housakos on February 15, 2018)

Department of Justice

With regards to the 2013 UNICEF Canadian Companion Report, “Child-Well-Being in Rich Countries: A comparative overview Canadian Companion” (Companion Report) the data source of the statistic in question (28% youth reporting having used cannabis in the last 12 months) is the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children: World Health Organization Collaborative Cross-National Study - 2009/2010 survey. More information can be found in the Health Behaviour in School–aged Children Study Protocol: Background, Methodology and Mandatory Items for the 2009/2010 Survey.

As a note of clarification, the Department of Justice Canada is not cited in the Companion Report as the source for the statistic relating to cannabis youth use rates. Rather it is cited in endnote 4 as the source for the statistic relating to youths charged with a cannabis offence in 2006. The appropriate citation for youth use rates should be: Taylor-Butts, Andrea and Angela Bressan. 2008. “Youth Crime in Canada, 2006” Juristat. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 85-002-X.


Champlain Bridge

(Response to question raised by the Honourable Leo Housakos on February 28, 2018)

The Government of Canada’s priority is to deliver a quality bridge as soon as possible without compromising the safety of workers and users. Unless unforeseen events occur, the objective remains to deliver the new Champlain Bridge in December 2018.

The Government of Canada, while pleased to see that major progress is being made on the site, will not make any compromises regarding the safety of bridge users or the continuity of service at this crossing. The government has therefore asked Jacques Cartier and Champlain Bridges Incorporated to take the steps necessary to allow the current bridge to remain open to traffic until summer 2019, should the need arise.


Budget 2018

(Response to question raised by the Honourable Claude Carignan on February 28, 2018)

The Government of Canada understands the importance of icebreaking services for Canada’s sovereignty, safety and the economy. We are taking action to ensure continued service delivery until new assets can be delivered for the Canadian Coast Guard.

We are pursuing the acquisition of commercial icebreaking vessels as an interim measure to support winter icebreaking operations in eastern Canada, including in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River. Discussions with Davie, as announced by the Prime Minister on January 18, are on-going.

In addition, starting this winter, the Canadian Coast Guard has established supply arrangements with private sector partners to fill short-term needs for additional marine services, such as icebreaking and aids to navigation, in the St. Lawrence and the Great Lakes. These on-demand spot charter arrangements will help to avoiding service interruptions.

Fisheries and Oceans

Icebreaker Fleet

(Response to question raised by the Honourable Ghislain Maltais on February 28, 2018)

The Government of Canada understands the importance of icebreaking services for Canada’s sovereignty, safety and the economy. We are taking action to ensure continued service delivery until new assets can be delivered for the Canadian Coast Guard.

We are pursuing the acquisition of commercial icebreaking vessels as an interim measure to support winter icebreaking operations in eastern Canada, including in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River. Discussions with Davie, as announced by the Prime Minister on January 18, are on-going.

In addition, starting this winter, the Canadian Coast Guard has established supply arrangements with private sector partners to fill short-term needs for additional marine services, such as icebreaking and aids to navigation, in the St. Lawrence and the Great Lakes. These on-demand spot charter arrangements will help to avoiding service interruptions.

Fishing Quotas

(Response to question raised by the Honourable Norman E. Doyle on February 28, 2018)

The decision to allocate a new licence for Arctic Surf Clam to the Five Nations Clam Company will significantly enhance Indigenous participation in the offshore fishery in Atlantic Canada. The inclusion of participants from each Atlantic province and Quebec will allow the benefits of this fishery to flow to a broad group of First Nations.

The Supreme Court of Canada has made it clear that fisheries resources are a common property resource belonging to all Canadians and thus the allegation of “expropriation” is inaccurate.

The Government of Canada will not be exploring options for compensation in regards to this decision. With regard to future TAC decision, the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard will continue to make decisions pursuant to Section 7 of the Fisheries Act.



Access to Information Act
Privacy Act

Bill to Amend—Second Reading—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Ringuette, seconded by the Honourable Senator Cools, for the second reading of Bill C-58, An Act to amend the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts.

Hon. Kim Pate: Honourable senators, I rise today to speak on the amendments to the Access to Information Act proposed in Bill C-58.


In reflecting on this legislation, I have benefited from the insights of Senators Ringuette and Pratte. Senator Ringuette, in her speech as the sponsor of the bill, gave us a powerful reminder of the importance of its objective. Access to information is the heart of a functioning, accountable democracy.

I also share many of Senator Pratte’s concerns about ensuring that Bill C-58 fulfills its stated objectives of accountability, transparency and accessibility.

Senator Pratte’s speech drafted a blueprint for considering these issues at committee, and we appreciate his vital and thoughtful identification of our constitutional obligations.

My goal today is to emphasize another facet of our constitutional responsibility. I refer to the duty of the Senate to represent those who are most marginalized and generally unrepresented or underrepresented.

As we consider the accessibility of information pursuant to Bill C-58, I urge that we turn our attention to the experiences of those who are marginalized in Canada, those most likely to experience systemic violations of fundamental Charter rights and human rights. Too many face unequal starting points when it comes to collecting information necessary to advocate for themselves or others, to challenge government policies and to defend their rights in court.


Indigenous peoples have raised serious concerns about Bill C-58. As Senator Boniface mentioned during the question period with Minister Brison last month, the Assembly of First Nations, or AFN, passed a resolution in December 2017 calling for the government to withdraw Bill C-58. The AFN argued that the government created this bill without consulting with Indigenous peoples, thus increasing the risk that the bill will disproportionately disadvantage them.


As one example of disproportionate disadvantage, a body of land claims experts, the National Claims Research Directors, referred the committee in the other place to clause 6 of the bill. Senator Pratte has already outlined the barriers that clause 6 creates for all types of information requests through new obligations to identify the specific subject matter of the request, the type of record being requested and the period or date of the relevant record. Clause 6 also gives government institutions a never-before-seen option even to refuse requests for information.

For First Nations peoples, clause 6 carries the additional threat of affecting land claims and governance processes and, by extension, federal recognition of inherent rights of Indigenous peoples to self-determination. First Nations peoples rely on information requests to obtain vital documentary evidence from the federal government of Canada for land claims and other disputes with the federal government.

In addition to the duties owed to Indigenous peoples under Canada’s constitution, fair and equal access to information is an essential aspect for providing redress under Article 11 of the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Article 19 of UNDRIP further requires the government to consult and cooperate with Indigenous peoples and to obtain their prior and informed consent before adopting legislative or administrative measures that may affect them. Both of these rights are at stake.


Honourable senators, let’s make sure that Indigenous peoples’ views on the future of this bill and access to information in Canada are heard. Bill C-58 is an opportunity for the government to make up for its lack of consultation and to fulfill its commitments with regard to reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.


In order to fully consider the effects of Bill C-58, we must also consider the experience of those inside prisons. As those of us on the Human Rights Committee have witnessed, systemic violations of fundamental rights by government actors are appallingly routine in federal prisons. Part of the reason that they go unchecked relates directly to the barriers to obtaining the information necessary to file and pursue complaints and grievances, much less to advocate and litigate them.


The Senate Human Rights Committee has heard first-hand about the types of human rights violations and the resulting sense of hopelessness and despair that prisoners without access to redress experience. Members of the Aboriginal Peoples Committee visited the Saskatchewan Penitentiary, where they also heard from Indigenous prisoners about the multitude of ways in which prisons both create and exacerbate racism and inequality.

It would be helpful if Bill C-58 could enhance our collective and prisoners’ individual abilities to expose their experiences of racism, violent uses of force, breaches of law and policy, including staff inciting discrimination — and even as we heard throughout the Maritimes, racist violence, as well as attitudes that reward younger prisoners who prey upon those who are older or who have mental health issues.

As I have experienced for decades, over and over during our visits committee members heard that mechanisms meant to provide oversight and increased accountability and transparency of the Correctional Service of Canada, CSC, are not working. Virtually every prisoner told us that the internal complaint and grievance process, the only legal administrative remedial avenue available for prisoners to try to address breaches of the law and policy by CSC, is broken and ineffective. This view was recently reiterated by the B.C. Superior Court in respect of excessive and unreasonable delays in decisions regarding long-term segregation and the ineffectiveness of the CSC grievance system in remedying these situations.


There is every indication that there are serious flaws regarding access to information in prisons.


When the Privacy Commissioner appeared before the Human Rights Committee, he indicated that although they are entitled to responses within 30 days, prisoners wait, on average, two years, if ever, for CSC to release requested information. In my experience, access to information, whether under the Privacy Act or the Access to Information Act, can often take much longer. After that committee meeting, a prisoner wrote to me about information requests he had submitted to CSC, one of which took 1,032 days to complete and required numerous external interventions.

When Ashley Smith signed a consent form and requested I obtain information denied to her under the Privacy Act but died while waiting for it to be processed, CSC refused to release the information, saying they could no longer confirm that she wanted me to receive the information on her behalf because of a three-month delay in their response. This decision was appealed to the Privacy Commissioner and ended up in Federal Court. Her request and grievances, filed three weeks before she died, were not retrieved until more than two months after her death; and only after the Office of the Correctional Investigator intervened did CSC actually look for the grievance and ATIP request. It turns out the box had not been emptied in three months.

More than five years after the initial access complaint and after two trips to the Federal Court, the court ordered CSC to release the information, but CSC never fully complied with the order. Moreover, it has now been more than 10 years since that initial request.

Unfortunately, in my experience, the difficulties and delays associated with Ashley’s case are not unusual. Furthermore, Ashley’s case involved lawyers and others outside the prison system. Imagine the situation for an individual in prison, isolated in segregation and without access to supports or advocates or even writing materials and how they might even attempt to request information from CSC on their own.


When I look at Bill C-58, all kinds of questions come to mind about new barriers that could undermine access to information.


Prisoners do not have access to email or the Internet. Their ability to make calls is limited. For those in segregation, a category that includes women classified as maximum-security prisoners, even obtaining paperwork or crayons, much less pens, may be a challenge.

The up-to-$25 filing fee contemplated by Bill C-58 will pose a significant financial burden to those who most need it: prisoners, poor people and those with personal and procedural barriers to equality. The absence of tools that most of us would rely on to submit an information request, let alone to meet the additional requirements established in clause 6 of the bill, may put access to information beyond the reach of far too many.

The new clause 6 requirement to identify a specific subject matter, type of record and date of record runs the risk of giving government departments like CSC further latitude to delay responding to information requests. I cannot tell you how many times my requests — as well as those of others — have been denied because I did not know the precise title or date of a particular document.

Clause 6 allows CSC and other government bodies to deny access-to-information requests. While Bill C-58 contemplates certain checks on this and other powers of government bodies, there are numerous reasons to question the robustness of these measures.

Senator Pratte is concerned about limitations on the ability of the Information Commissioner to ensure that government bodies abide by legislation, including her own powers to order compliance.

I agree.

Furthermore, the effectiveness of the Information Commissioner may be further compromised if barriers to communicating with prisoners are not overcome. In-person visits to prisons are but one example.

The entrenched culture within CSC of denial and defending the indefensible stands in stark contrast to legislative requirements to assist applicants with their information requests. CSC staff have too often put significant pressure on prisoners to withdraw charges, complaints or access requests.

I recently received a letter from another prisoner in connection with my work on the Human Rights Committee. He wanted to tell me about the issues he was facing but did not want any staff to get in trouble. Staff had told him if he reported that he had any concerns, he would need to “look for a new prison.”

They also indicated that communicating with me was not a good idea. This type of pressure is a function of the unequal power within the prison system and results in far too many information requests and complaints from prisoners being withdrawn and never actually resolved.

The saying that we can judge our society by how it treats its most vulnerable members is most apt here. As senators with an obligation to represent the underrepresented and the most dispossessed and marginalized, I believe we must judge our laws by the same measure.

Honourable colleagues, as we proceed to study Bill C-58 at committee, I urge us to focus on the experiences of those who are too often marginalized and overlooked. Only then can we hope to make information necessary to advocate, to challenge unjust laws and policies and to uphold our human and Charter protected rights, not to mention justice, equality and fairness, accessible to all.

Thank you, meegwetch.

Hon. Pierrette Ringuette: Would the honourable senator answer a few questions for me?

Senator Pate: Of course.

Senator Ringuette: I was very moved by your comments, especially your in-depth knowledge about what goes on inside a prison, the treatment of prisoners and the fact that many do not have the tools to have access and are denied the tools to have access. I really understand that.

Could you explain to me how, in this bill, we could facilitate bringing forward these tools to the specific examples you have shown?

Senator Pate: Thank you very much for that question. I think some things could be done around clause 6, as I mentioned. I also think we could be looking at ways to ensure that information goes in and that there are actual visits to the institutions. They have been proposed by and are executed by groups like the Correctional Investigator.

But one of the things we need to do is to ensure that the barriers that are put in place, including the costs, basically don’t prohibit those kinds of access requests.

Right now, under the privacy legislation, there is no cost requirement, but there is under the Access to Information Act. Oftentimes, prisoners are forced to ask external advocates to use the Access to Information process as well as their releases of information to also file privacy complaints on their behalf, which is exactly what happened with Ashley Smith.

What is interesting is the different information you sometimes get. For some people, even the $5 access-to-information fee that currently applies can be a challenge.


Senator Ringuette: I certainly understand how you view this.

Clause 6 was amended in the other place regarding fees and also forcing the people that receive an access to information request to contact the requester if the request is not clear, in order to get a better idea exactly what documents the requester is looking for. From my perspective, the commissioner finally has the power to order that. I think we’ve come long way from the main piece of legislation that was done 34 years ago.

The Hon. the Speaker: Excuse me, Senator Ringuette. Senator Pate’s time is up.

Are you asking for five more minutes, Senator Pate, to answer questions?

Senator Pate: Yes.

The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted, honourable senators?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Senator Ringuette: I certainly understand the preoccupation that you have. When we bring this bill to committee — hopefully sooner rather than later; message taken — I think that we’ll be able to address this in a more specific way, bearing in mind that there is a mandatory one-year review.

Could you provide specifics regarding changes you would like in clause 6?

Senator Pate: Yes, I would be happy to provide that to you.

(On motion of Senator Martin, debate adjourned.)

Criminal Code
Immigration and Refugee Protection Act

Bill to Amend—Second Reading—Debate

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Ataullahjan, seconded by the Honourable Senator Andreychuk, for the second reading of Bill S-240, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (trafficking in human organs).

Hon. David Richards: Honourable senators, Bill S-240 deals with people going overseas to get organs that they can’t get in Canada.

I know that Bill S-240 is an unpleasant subject — not one many wish to think of. Still, it is an amendment I think important. I want to deal with it primarily and ultimately as a crime of one’s individual conscience perpetrated against other individuals.

Bill S-240 asks for us to decide what we will find intolerable in our society — and in so doing, what we will do to prevent that which we find intolerable. It is, in a way, a simple enough request, but a request demanding us to take action against any person who accepts for another person, or receives on their behalf, an unlawful organ transplant.

It is a bill to prevent men and women from flying to a country and receiving an organ from a donor who is very often manipulated or forced by poverty, servitude or fear into compliance, many times receiving a death sentence because of it. It is asking us to separate the offence of filching organs from its companion crime of human trafficking. To make them separate offences under the law so we can deal with this repellent practice independently — the amendment asks us this.

I don’t think there is any need to decide which one is the more odious for both are odious — no reason to elaborate on which is the more numbing to the human spirit, for both are. But there is something especially horrific in the cattling of human beings for the purpose of using them for transplant. Here, in Canada, people are dying waiting. That is, hundreds of people a year die on waiting lists because of a lack of organs; doctors having to make life and death decisions on who might receive an available organ and who might not.

It would be grand if more people signed a simple form as an organ donor or advised their family that they wish to. I have known people who died waiting. But still, greater access might not matter at all to those intent on jumping the line. It is a crass, moneyed devaluing of the human spirit. Those with cash and an available donor, hounded or in prison, can take advantage of both. It does sound horrible, I know, but what way can we talk about this practice to make it less so?

It would be hard indeed for someone to think of kindness and goodness after travelling overseas to procure an organ from a coerced or imprisoned human being, whose blood type and organ information have been filed on a computer data bank, registered with a sterile fitness department ready to be procured.

Doctors here should warn these potential recipients that sickness and diseases often accompany the request. People do come home unwell and infected. So this procurement is no cure-all for an unprincipled person or an unscrupulous world.

It is rather strange to me also that we were warned about all of this in 1817 by a slip of a girl, 19-year-old Mary Shelley. Dared by her companions, Percy Bysche Shelley and Lord Byron, to write a ghost story while in their castle in Switzerland, Mary Shelley had an incredible inspiration; she created the new 19th-century man, a man who wanted to be God: Victor Frankenstein.

In a certain way, those who travel vast distances to sit in hotel rooms and await a call for an organ to be removed from an incarcerated or indentured human being are emulating the man little Mary Shelley warned us about. That association might seem absurd, if it weren’t so true.

Cicero once said that honour follows virtue like a shadow. It might not immediately seem apparent, but over time it always will. And this all does come down to one’s virtue. One must decide for themselves not length of life but what kind of human being they strive to be. It is perhaps the only question.

Honour follows virtue like a shadow.

I was in Santiago once with the Quebec writer Roch Carrier, and we went to visit a cathedral. There were beggars on the street and we gave them most of the money we had with us. Afterward, after dark, I was walking outside my hotel and I saw, in the corner or an alleyway, a young boy about 9 years old holding a tin spoon and feeding a woman medicine. Perhaps it was his mother or grandmother. He was alone in his task and they too were alone in a makeshift shelter, on a blanket under an eave. He had poured a little of this medicine on a tin spoon, oblivious to anyone else, and was concentrating hard on not spilling it. The medicine, whatever it was, did seem precious to him.

It was and is no startling sight to see the homeless, but it was, in a way, both triumphant and sad to see the courage of this young boy, who had managed to get medicine for this woman. One would imagine him giving up much to help her, without consideration of himself. This is the unrecognized gallantry, the often unapplauded goodness of a common soul.

I, of course, do not know what happened in his life or where he is now, alive or not, but I do know that moment sanctified him to me, and to you since it is a story I just told you.

Then, a while ago, I saw another person holding a tin spoon. A soldier in Iran was kneeling down to give a woman her last sip of water from a tin spoon. She was buried up to her neck in gravel. Her grey hair was blowing; her eyes looked unbearably sad. She was about to be stoned to death for some grave infraction of sharia law.

The boy in Santiago had nothing. He was alone on a blanket with an elderly woman. The soldier was protected within the order of a monstrous theocracy, self-righteously certain of his destiny. Yet, which life would we rather emulate? Which spoon would we rather hold? That is, in a strange, ethereal way, always the only question.

Those who seek life by procuring an organ in this way seek freedom — freedom from pain, but often on the back of another’s pain — procuring a new lease on life while poaching someone else’s lease. A notion of self-worth while devaluing someone else’s worth.


Freedom is greatness. But as Tolstoy reminds us, there is no greatness where simplicity, goodness and truth are absent. We will not find any goodness, simplicity and truth in manipulating the poverty-stricken man who is trying to protect his children by harvesting his organs so he might keep them alive, or in those who are shunted through a prison system because of their moral conscience, giving up their organs to someone from Asia or North America who has lapsed into a moral coma. Those who pay for a trip across the dangerous sea by organs from their body, so someone who has never braved a sea can loll on a beach.

The individual conscience is really the conscience that saves or destroys the world. An individual conscience allows a Somali to give his or her last bit of bread to a child they might not know. An individual lack of conscience allows a Somali to redirect a truckload of flour to sell on the black market. Who then is a Somali?

There is a line by a great Somali poet that states, “There is a time when property and life are forbidden an honourable man.” In a real way, this is what we speak about today.

Where I came from, there is and always was a grand dearth of organs for transplant, and prospective recipients waited long and agonizingly for a match. Most of them are White men and women, or Native men and women.

When I was growing up back in the 1950s and 1960, few of them, if any, became recipients of anything. As far back as I remember, not a great many had money to direct very much in their lives, whether we were Irish from Chatham, Scots and English from Newcastle, Acadian from Neguac or First Nation from Big Cove.

White privilege has been spoken about often enough here at universities where I sometimes speak. In my life, I myself have seen enough White privilege to last two lifetimes.

Boys of 16 having pulp hooks put through their hand while loading pulp boats in the summer. Young girls waiting behind the bakery in the morning at six o’clock to get bread to take home to their family. My mother-in-law scrubbing floors for people and hiking to and from work along a desolate road in winter.

A grand privilege for us in this chamber, no doubt. Whoever they were, they had not much chance of travelling away to a foreign land to buy an organ or two.

To think that one of my best friends waiting for a heart transplant, meeting other young hopeful recipients, looked at his wife — my wife’s dearest friend — and said with complete calmness, “I have lived my life. If someone deserves it, it has to be someone younger than me.” That day he gave up his place in the line. He was 49 years old.

I am not at all saying a choice that is simple is also easy, but I am saying it may be the only moral choice we have.

The image of a Pakistani boy of 6 years of age left in a field without his eyes because they had been stolen should outrage the world, if there was not enough already to outrage it.

“There is a time when property and life are forbidden an honourable man,” the Somali poet said.

Like most of you, I have seen good men and women dying with courage, who would have been appalled at the idea of discrediting themselves or their conscience. But we look upon so much now with institutionalized thought, about whole groups of people. We categorize people too easily to fit our assumptions about them, and we believe we know who the culprits are and who we can point our fingers at.

We look at countries and are dismayed at their ambivalence to life — many caught up in this grip of organ donor or human trafficking terror. They are all caught up in the horror of being disposable. Many of us believe they are not as important as we are, but that is about as far as from the truth and honour as one can slide.

“All of us are better when we’re loved,” my good friend Alistair Macleod once wrote. The donor is not loved, and the recipient has given up much of his right to be. But you see, I am at a loss for I do not know what penalty to give. My life has never reckoned on giving penalties. Perhaps I have seen too many who deserve them.

The amendment asks for life in prison, depending on the circumstances. I am not sure if that is the penalty I would seek. Sometimes we identify too easily and understand too late.

So I will tell you now why I hate identity politics, not just in this, but in all its monstrous forms. In its marrow, it leads us to this. That is, it puts us all in boxes with prisms so we can be seen in any refracted light the viewer wants. That this happens to those forced into the organ transplant world is true, but it happens to friends of my youth as well. To prevent one, we should always repudiate the other.

I was a young kid walking home one night. I came upon a high school dance. There was a fight outside in the parking lot. One of those involved was a street fighter from my town.

Everyone in this chamber from the East Coast, and many from the rural areas of the West, have seen this man: brass rings on his fingers, jean jacket rolled up over his sweater and work boots on his feet to kick someone when they are down.

He was in a fight with a young First Nations boy, and this boy could not fight; he did not know how to throw a punch. Every now and then, the First Nation boy’s young girlfriend would try to protect him, but she would be pushed away.

And then another kid from the back road came out. He told his fellow back-roader not to hit the First Nation boy again, and said it wasn’t fair, that “the Indian couldn’t fight,” but the boy paid no mind. So the other kid, the other back-roader, stepped in, and defended the First Nation kid. Finally, he beat the other fellow back and put him down. This is a true story. I witnessed it.

But you see, they both looked the same. Identity politics would never separate these two or make a distinction between them, but they were totally different people — not just different in degree, but different in kind. They were two different kinds of men.

Identity politics does not differentiate, but character does — always. Leave character and courage with the second boy; leave the first boy to himself. Recognize who is who only by the content of their character, and we might realize some of Martin Luther King’s dream.

An organ is supposedly a gift of life, but what gift is ever stolen, coerced or manipulated away from someone who has nothing in his life left to give? Fine gift, fine life. You are, if possible, supposed to meet your donor and show your gratitude to him or her in some humbling way. It is the nature of man to do so, but who meets the donor on an equal footing here? No matter what in this life we can pay for, baubles of gold have never made a human being.

I am not sure of the statistics, but more Canadians travel every year to acquire an organ, generally a kidney, this way. Many of the recipients come back to Canada ill and infected, and many in life threatening condition, the chances of a sky-blue life not so sky blue anymore. To whom in the world did they think they were trusting their life? Someone who actually cared for life? Like so much of human trafficking, the trafficking in organs leaves a swath of death, disease and blood from hepatitis to HIV.

But that is not my major concern. My major concern is both philosophical and theological. How can one do this and be content or live a happy life with family and friends, without considering its appalling aftermath? How can you scratch out a few more years of life on the back of an innocent you have never met and remain truly alive? What kind of grace is one afforded after such a graceless act?

Mary Shelley was exactly right: One becomes God at their own peril. Each step in that direction leaves you less a human and more a creature. It is no one’s fault; it is universal law. Mary Shelley knew it 200 years ago.

When Christ said, “Let the dead bury the dead,” he was, of course, not talking at all about the dead; he was speaking about those of whom we speak today. Thank you.

Hon. Ratna Omidvar: I have a question.

The Hon. the Speaker: Senator Omidvar, your question will have to wait until after Question Period.


Business of the Senate

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, Minister Qualtrough is with us, and we welcome her for Question Period. Welcome, minister.

Pursuant to the order adopted by the Senate on December 10, 2015, to receive a Minister of the Crown, the Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Public Services and Procurement, appeared before honourable senators during Question Period.

Ministry of Public Services and Procurement

Phoenix Pay System

Hon. Larry W. Smith (Leader of the Opposition): Good day, minister. Welcome. My question concerns the Phoenix pay system.

A year and a half ago, the government missed its self-imposed deadline to clear the backlog of pay problems. Currently, over 600,000 transactions are still in the queue waiting to be fixed. Now we have learned that the government’s employee pension system is under pressure.

The Ottawa Citizen reported yesterday that the pension centre in Shediac, New Brunswick, has hired 55 new staff for the sole purpose of validating the data it receives from the Phoenix system and that the number of cases requiring a correction has increased by 25 per cent.


Minister, what assurances, if any, can you give that the federal government’s pension system will not end up with widespread errors, as is the case with the Phoenix pay system?

Hon. Carla Qualtrough, P.C., M.P., Minister of Public Services and Procurement: I thank the members of the Senate for their invitation to have me come and speak. It’s an honour and a privilege for me. I must confess to being slightly nervous. I have such respect. I’m geeking out, to quote my teenage son, so thank you.

Specifically with respect to the Phoenix pay system, yes this has proved way more difficult than anyone could have imagined to resolve this issue. Specifically with respect to pensions, we remain fully committed to ensuring that public servants are paid on time. We are trying to insulate the pay problems from pensions.

We have implemented various mitigation strategies to avoid compromising pension payments and services as a result of issues through the pay system. All pension payments are verified through a robust quality assurance program, and before issuing pension payments, the pension centre fully reviews each file to identify potential errors.

Public Services and Procurement Canada will continue to ensure all efforts are made to safeguard the integrity of the pension program.

Senator Smith: As you review the case that you are faced with at this particular time, do you have a best estimate, from the people reporting to you, of the time it will take before we get the system back up and functioning properly?

Ms. Qualtrough: I thank the senator for his question.

There are a couple of different ways we’re looking at whether or not the Phoenix pay system is improving. My goal, ultimately, is to stabilize the system.

If your question pertains to when we think we will get to a point where public servants are paid on time and actively at a reliable pace, I can’t guarantee that. What I have learned is that we don’t want to impose deadlines that we can’t meet, so we are working for constant improvement. We are looking every month as if the queue is going down. We are looking at our ability to avoid crises before they happen. We are looking to improve the accuracy of the data as it’s input so that we don’t have transactions that are actually put into the queue so we can avoid the numbers at the beginning and deal with the problems at the end.

We’ve taken a number of measures. At this time it would be improper for me to tell you that we have a deadline, but we are working to constantly improve. We are seeing the numbers go down, just not as quickly as we would like them to.

Hon. Norman E. Doyle: Minister, my question for you today also has to do with the Phoenix pay system and the negative effect it has had on members of the Canadian Coast Guard.

We heard back in the summer of 2016 that out of all the groups impacted by Phoenix pay problems, Coast Guard members in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador were among the hardest hit.

We learned in January that 76 per cent of DFO and Coast Guard employees had outstanding pay centre cases, and 100 per cent of seagoing employees were affected — 100 per cent.

By way of information, when a ship’s crew goes out to sea for maybe a month and a half, they have little or no Internet, meaning they have no access to their pay information or online banking. Coast Guard members often have to wait until they return home to begin fixing their pay problem.

These Coast Guard members recently received T4 slips. Given all the problems with Phoenix over the past two years, why should these Coast Guard members have any confidence at all that their tax information is correct? Obviously if the pay is incorrect, the tax information will be incorrect as well.

Coast Guard members really need to know when these problems are going to be fixed. I heard the answer that you gave to my colleague, but is there anything specific you can say to the Coast Guard members that would give them confidence that their problems are going to be looked at expeditiously?

Ms. Qualtrough: Thank you for your question, sir.

One of the particular challenges with the Phoenix system — and I could give you a dissertation on how we got here — is that it’s very much challenged by retroactive payments. One of the unique situations with the Coast Guard and others is that they, by the very nature of their work, as you said, input their data in an untimely manner because they don’t have access to a computer or because they don’t in fact have an opportunity within the current pay period to input their information. So all of their payments are retroactive or the vast majority of their transactions are retroactive.

Phoenix does not deal well with retroactive payments. It was a functionality that was chosen to be descoped in the summer of 2016, I believe — pardon me, 2015 — and we are working to manually correct all those transactions.

I met as recently as two weeks ago with members of the Coast Guard. We had a chance to talk about their frustration and I encouraged them.

We also have to work within departments such as DFO on the HR side of this. We know this is an end-to-end user system, whereas it’s not just a matter of the pay system itself having problems and challenges. The data and interaction with the HR system also has to be worked upon.

So the answer I could give you is that we’re working to come up with a Coast Guard-specific solution to this, knowing that by virtue of the work they do we’re never going to get to a point where Coast Guard employees can input their data on time.

I know it’s small comfort to say, but a lot of pay systems internationally have trouble and challenges with retroactive payments. We have learned a lot from our investigations into how we can deal with this. We have put in place different governance processes and business practices so that we get this information into the system as quickly as possible.

The more information we get into the system in a timely manner, the least likely it’s going to have trouble with Phoenix.

Hon. Terry M. Mercer (Deputy Leader of the Senate Liberals): Minister, thank you for being here, number one.

I have asked a number of questions about the Phoenix pay system in the past and I want to continue that line of questioning.

IBM has now stated that it knew the problems would arise. They say they told the government under Stephen Harper, who apparently ignored them.

It seems to me that governments should do due diligence when they’re making major purchases and changes in how they administer the Government of Canada.

In 2010, Queensland in Australia had similar problems. Well, when you’re making a major change, one would hope that the government does its due diligence, goes and checks with other customers, asks customers if the product works, if it can adjust to the government’s way of doing things. I’m sure that the government of Queensland in Australia is not that different from the Government of Canada.

Then the government changed to the one you are now part of, and it appears the government continued to ignore the warnings that IBM insists they posed. Could you explain why they were ignored and the government did not slow down the roll-out?

Secondly, I have asked several times here in the Senate about when the government will sue IBM for compensation because of this. They say it is not their fault. It has cost the taxpayers of this country almost $1 billion. That’s $1 billion in tax dollars that could go to providing well-deserved services to Canadians from coast to coast to coast; $1 billion that now sits in the coffers of IBM because we didn’t do due diligence or they didn’t deliver a good product. When are we going to sue them?

If it turns out that they are indeed culpable, even though they have denied the blame, is the government prepared to take every action necessary to recover monies spent by the federal government to fix this problem?

Ms. Qualtrough: I thank the honourable senator for his question.

Sir, the relationship with IBM is indeed complex and dates back many years before we took government, as you referred to.

An open and transparent procurement process was undertaken under which IBM was determined the successful bidder for the right to develop a pay system for the Government of Canada.

During the process of negotiations and in the early stages of their delivery of this software, the government at the time significantly descoped the work that IBM was going to do. I can tell you different functionalities that were put off the contract and I can tell you that at different times the relationship with IBM was strained with the former government.

What I can assure you is that our government is holding IBM to the letter of the contract that ultimately resulted for the delivery of the Phoenix pay system.


This was a massive, enterprise-wise, business transformation that was treated as a cost-cutting measure. It’s very difficult to see how it could have been seen simply as the purchase of a piece of software when in fact there should have been massive change management, business transformation, policy change, process review, governance structure change. But fundamentally, at its core, with what IBM was asked to deliver under its contract, they are being held to those deliverables.

The challenging part for us is that only holding them to those deliverables has not resulted in a functioning HR-to-pay system that we need in the Government of Canada to pay everyone accurately and on time every two weeks.


Gender Wage Gap

Hon. Marilou McPhedran: Thank you, minister, for agreeing to join us today.


Minister, in your mandate letter of October 2017, Prime Minister Trudeau tasked you to support the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour to implement a modern, fair wages policy. My question is about wage gaps. Acknowledging Canada’s historic gender-sensitive budget in February, Canada’s presidency of the G7 and widespread calls on the international scene for ending the gender pay gap, my question to you is as follows: Given the government’s commitment to achieve gender parity, how close are we to ending the gender wage gap in Canada?

Minister, can you please give us examples of actions you are taking within your mandate and as a member of cabinet, such as perhaps following Iceland’s new law to enforce equal pay, to make substantial amendments to our legislation and policies to address the inequity of the wage gap in Canada, and when can we expect results that close the gap?

Hon. Carla Qualtrough, P.C., M.P., Minister of Public Services and Procurement: I thank the honourable senator for her question. As somebody who was a human rights lawyer in my former life and who litigated pay equity cases many years ago, I was very excited when our government announced its intent to engage in pay equity legislation. We intend to introduce the law this fall, and I think that will go a long way to addressing the gender wage gap. But as you well know, that’s not the only thing we need to do as a government. We need to put a gender policy lens on every decision that we make. We did that through this year’s budget and intend to codify in law the need to put a gender lens on every budget in the future, and I think that will go a long way.

I can tell you that every memo to cabinet that we see has a gender-based plus analysis with it, so we know exactly the impact of any policy or legal decision we make on both genders, negative or positive. In fact, I’ve been at the table — without breaching confidences — where somebody has said, “If we just did this, we could improve it even more, and if we didn’t do that, we would in some way mitigate the risk that we’re talking about here.” It is very top of mind at the cabinet table, I can assure you.

We need to understand that addressing the gender wage gap has as much to do with removing the barriers faced by women getting into the workforce. Having child care, giving women more choices and removing barriers to get into the workforce and having a broad array of choices are, for us, equally as important as pay equity. As much as pay equity seems like something we should have done a long time ago, and we intend to do it, as a government, it’s just one thing we’re doing, and we’re attacking this problem on a number of different fronts.


Translation and Interpretation Services

Hon. Pierrette Ringuette: Thank you for being here, minister.

One of the items on the Senate Order Paper is a report on the translation and interpretation services available to senators. We wrote the report after receiving numerous complaints. One of the problems we identified is that lowest cost is the only criterion for awarding translation contracts. That is why service quality has declined over the years. Your department agreed to improve the translation and interpretation services provided to the Senate. If the Senate is not getting good service, every other Government of Canada department must be having the same problem. Are you planning to take a closer look at the quality of the translation services provided to the Government of Canada as a whole?

Hon. Carla Qualtrough, P.C., M.P., Minister of Public Services and Procurement: Thank you for your question, senator. Our government strongly supports official languages, and the production of accurate, high-quality translations is a priority for us. We are working hard to develop a new vision for the Translation Bureau to ensure top-quality translation services for the House of Commons, the Senate and all government departments. Nobody should ever get a poor translation, and we are working very hard on that.

Phoenix Pay System

Hon. Jean-Guy Dagenais: Thank you, minister. Your government has been in power for a little over two years, and for two years now, your government has been showing a marked lack of respect for all the public servants who are having problems getting what is owed to them for the hard work they do. Your government’s political spin and empty apologies mean nothing to people who have to try to plan a family budget without a paycheque. As a former union leader, I can assure you that our reaction would have been far more drastic than what you have faced with so far. I don’t want to hear another word about intentions. I want to know what concrete action is being taken now to address the difficulties these public servants and their families are grappling with.

Hon. Carla Qualtrough, P.C., M.P., Minister of Public Services and Procurement: Thank you, senator. I can assure you that resolving this problem is my top priority.


I can assure you that I understand we need to take action and not just speak the words, but words are important, and I am extremely grateful to our public servants for their patience in dealing with this. I understand the difficult position we have put them in and how it is impacting their families. I speak to public servants daily about the impact of this on their lives.

I can tell you that we have focused our efforts on four areas. One is governance. The Prime Minister has created a ministerial working group; we have created a deputy minister level work group across government, an ADM work group and a director general work group. We understand this is a whole-of-government issue that needs a whole-of-government response, and it has to be top of mind for every minister and every deputy minister every day they walk in the door.

In terms of process and technology, we’ve improved significantly our business processes. We’ve adopted policies that allow us to better integrate our HR systems with the pay system. You have to understand that there are 32 HR systems in the Government of Canada, and none of the work to integrate those systems with Phoenix was done before Phoenix was put on line. So we are retroactively doing the work, from a technological and process point of view, to make sure that HR and pay processes and practices are integrated.

We’re also working on an area of capacity, meaning we’re hiring back and we have hired back the pay advisers that were let go by the previous government in anticipation of Phoenix not needing that many pay advisers. We’re rebuilding capacity within the Government of Canada both at the pay centre in Miramichi, but also within departments, understanding that we need a substantive HR capacity within departments to correspond with the pay capacity we’re rebuilding.

The last area is partnership and engagement, working with unions. I must publicly thank our public sector unions for their patience and their willingness to partner with us and find solutions because we challenge them daily. I am sincerely apologetic for that, but we need to move forward, and they have been helpful in that regard.

We are working with individuals directly through their managers, with public servants, to ensure that individual employees have the information they need and they know how we can help and how they can get help if they need that help. We have put in place emergency salary advances. If an employee is not getting the salary that they are entitled to, they can get an advance on that salary.

We’ve put in place a fund from which public servants can draw money in order to get accounting support because their taxes are impacted by this, and we are giving that support. We are working with unions, and we’ve invested money in advancing unions the union dues that are not necessarily given to them accurately because, of course, when we don’t pay an employee accurately, the right amounts of union dues aren’t passed along to the union. So any way we can possibly mitigate this, we are trying. We are always open to new suggestions. Certainly, as the days and weeks go on, we’re showing some innovation. I feel as though we are proactively seeing the change that we have so desperately wanted to see for so long. Thank you.



Icebreaker Fleet—Davie Shipbuilding

Hon. Claude Carignan: My question is for the minister. Minister, several months ago, I asked your colleague, Senator Harder, some questions about the problem with the icebreakers and Davie shipyard. Senator Harder admitted that the situation was urgent, and I assume that, as the government representative, he speaks for the government. Yet nothing is happening.

Three months ago, Prime Minister Trudeau went to Quebec City to make promises to Davie and its employees. Since then, nothing has happened.

I received a delayed answer to a question I asked on February 28, 2018. I imagine that this delayed answer is based on your talking points. It says:

We are pursuing the acquisition of commercial icebreaking vessels as an interim measure . . . . Discussions with Davie, as announced by the Prime Minister on January 18, are on-going.

Minister, my question is as follows: Is an agreement going to be signed with Davie? I get the impression that this government has a problem with that company. First, can you assure me that that is not the case? Then, can you tell us when we can expect to have an agreement, a bona fide order, so that the people who work at Davie shipyard can get back to work as soon as possible?

Hon. Carla Qualtrough, P.C., M.P., Minister of Public Services and Procurement: I can assure you that our government recognizes the expertise and experience of the workers at Davie shipyard. It’s a major shipyard, and they did a great job on the Asterix.

We determined that the Coast Guard was in need of icebreakers and we are in negotiations with the Davie shipyard regarding work on three icebreakers. I hope those negotiations will have a positive outcome. You will understand that we are in negotiations.


We’re doing our due diligence. We are comparing our numbers, and I can assure you that we are working very hard to get a solution for Davie. We completely understand the impact of job loss on workers, and we are doing our very best to reach a solution that works for everyone.

Phoenix Pay System

Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Minister, I want to welcome you to the Senate. I am particularly proud that you are here as you are a minister from my province. I want to tell you we are very proud of the work you have done, especially when you came to the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance, and the honest way in which you answered the questions was very comforting.

Minister, from the way you are answering questions, and I had the same question as Senator Dagenais so I won’t go into details about it. You are very much aware of the public servants suffering from mental and emotional anguish and struggling to pay for everyday necessities. You earlier on set out all the things you have put in place to help public servants.

One thing that really bothers me is that worse than their situation, as the tax deadline appears, thousands of public servants affected by Phoenix are scrambling as they receive T4s that are not reflective of their actual earnings. Public Services and Procurement Canada has sent a message to federal employees asking them to meet the April 30 deadline and to use the most recent tax slips issued even if they contain errors.

Minister, it is not acceptable that they have to pay taxes on wages they have not been paid and based on T4 slips that are not correct. What are you going to do to help these public servants?

Hon. Carla Qualtrough, P.C., M.P., Minister of Public Services and Procurement: Thank you. Once again, I appreciate the horrible position we’ve put our public servants in. We identified late last year, working with CRA, that we wanted to mitigate as much as possible any impact on taxes that the Phoenix pay system would have. We identified that a significant issue was overpayments because, of course, we would be asking employees to pay a higher level of tax, and, quite frankly, being in a certain tax bracket could result in public servants not having access to certain government benefits. It became a priority to make sure that as many overpayments as possible were dealt with. We also realize that as much as you might have an overpayment in our system you could very well also be underpaid in another area. To go after someone for an overpayment who hasn’t been made whole within the system — because, as we know, the likelihood is that someone who has one transaction in the queue will have more than one.

We put in place a number of measures to mitigate this. First of all, we put a collective effort on addressing overpayment issues. I would say we were pretty successful in reducing the number of overpayments that are reflected on T4s. To be honest, there were some that were not addressed, and some employees did get T4s that were inaccurate. We have committed, working with CRA, to not have employees have to re-file taxes. That will be done automatically. We have issued amended T4s for every single one of those overpayments we did not get to. We have also created a government-wide policy that we will not require an employee to pay back any money that may be in an overpayment situation until that employee has been made whole.

Until Mr. Harder here has — I’m not sure if you do, sir, but until all of your transactions are dealt with, we will not come after you for the payment of that money. We are doing the best we can to make sure that is mitigated. As I said earlier, we completely understand the difficult situation we’ve put people in.


Procurement Strategy—Linguistic Rights

Hon. Raymonde Gagné: Minister, I would like to take this opportunity today to ask you a question about a letter that I wrote you in January and another letter that I co-signed with my colleague, former senator Claudette Tardif, about the disposal of federal government buildings.

Your department is required to abide by the Directive on the Sale or Transfer of Surplus Real Property, under which the needs of certain stakeholders, including official language minority communities, must be taken into account in the disposal of real property.

As a result of the situation with the Heather Street Lands and École Rose-des-Vents properties in British Columbia, you told the Standing Senate Committee on Official Languages the following, and I quote:

This issue in Vancouver has provided the Government with an occasion to remind all federal institutions that they are required to comply with the Treasury Board Secretariat’s Directive on the Sale or Transfer of Surplus Real Property.

The same situation occurred in Winnipeg, even after departments were reminded that they had an obligation to abide by the directive. There is a building in Winnipeg that was put up for sale to the public without any prior consultation with the local francophone community, even though their schools are overcapacity.

Minister, aside from the reminders you have given, what do you intend to do to ensure that stakeholders’ rights are respected and that real property of strategic value is not disposed of before carefully assessing the potential it might represent for our communities?

Hon. Carla Qualtrough, P.C., M.P., Minister of Public Services and Procurement: Thank you for your question. I will answer in English.


We definitely understand the importance of linguistic duality in education. We understand the opportunity afforded by disposal of real property and other assets to address broader social policy objectives of the Government of Canada.

Working with the Canada Lands Company, for example, in Vancouver, at Heather Street, we have determined that there is a way. There will be a French-language school on that property in the final plan, and that is very exciting. I apologize, for I don’t know the details of the Winnipeg school off the top of my head, but I can certainly get those for you.


I can assure you that one of the exciting things — although not very many of my colleagues find procurement terribly exciting — about my role is that we can use the tools that I have to advance these broader objectives.

We can use the opportunity of asset disposal to advance other objectives strategically, like official languages. So certainly, working with Canada Lands and other partners as we dispose of assets, we take these broader objectives into mind. I can get the information on Winnipeg to you.

Procurement Strategy—Community Interests

Hon. Ratna Omidvar: Thank you, minister, for being with us today. Like you, I can get very excited about procurement as well because I understand the levers that are embedded in it, so my question is on community benefits.

As you know, Toronto, where I come from, is home to the country’s largest transportation project, the Eglinton Crosstown, and through provincial legislation and investments, the regional transportation authority, Metrolinx, has agreed to devote 10 per cent of the work hours, which is roughly 300 jobs, to disadvantaged community members living along the new light-rail line. I can tell you, of course, what a huge and positive impact this will have on the local community.

So as the Minister of Public Services and Procurement, you are entrusted with entering into contracts large and small across the country. So what is your department doing to promote this concept of community benefits in your procurement efforts, and will your government be supporting Bill C-344, which will inject language around community benefits into your job description?

Hon. Carla Qualtrough, P.C., M.P., Minister of Public Services and Procurement: Thank you. So, absolutely is the short answer to your question, ma’am. I think that any world class, cutting-edge procurement system will use, as you recognized and as I have said previously, the levers of procurement to advance broader social and economic benefits, maybe beyond the bottom line, if you will.

Bill C-344 gives us an opportunity as a government to ascertain, once a bid is successful and through the life of the project and afterward, the community benefits that particular project has yielded: How many jobs? What kind of green initiatives were included? Were there specific initiatives targeted to marginalized populations?

The benefits of that, of course, are two-fold. First, we are getting data we don’t currently have. We can’t tell you with any certainty how many Aboriginal youth were employed by any different contract put out by the Government of Canada, and wow, what a powerful number that would be if we could. That’s what we would like to get to.

Second of all, we can then use that information to drive the development of future policy and programming decisions and decision-making, because we can tell you that, “Wow, we are not getting to the people who could benefit most from these contracts,” because the way the contract perhaps was procured inadvertently excluded a group we really want to target.

I think it’s a very powerful lever that we will be able to use as the data is collected and as we move forward on other initiatives, like our Aboriginal procurement strategy or embedding accessibility into our procurement initiatives. Moving forward alone, having both the economic and the social data, will really help us make better decisions as a government.

Aircraft Procurement

Hon. Paul E. McIntyre: Minister, welcome to the Senate. My question has to do with procurement of fighter aircraft and timelines.

As you know, Canada’s fighter aircraft fleet is already some 35 years old. Your government is acquiring additional used aircraft from Australia, which are just as old. You have supposedly launched a competition to replace both aircraft with a new fighter aircraft, but this competition is taking at least five years.

Minister, can you explain precisely why the competition will take that long? Also, will you table an outline with the Senate of each stage you envisage for the competition, precisely how long that stage will take and, hopefully, a detailed explanation for the time allotted?

Hon. Carla Qualtrough, P.C., M.P., Minister of Public Services and Procurement: Thank you, honourable senator, for your question.

We definitely need to equip our men and women in uniform with the up-to-date modern equipment they need. We have not purchased jets, as you said, for a very long time so we are taking a two-track approach basically to immediately address the identified capability gap by the Minister of Defence and the CDS, or the Chief of Defence Staff, in terms of getting planes right now for our Air Force men and women.

I have been assured by the CDS, as has cabinet, that the planes we are purchasing from Australia meet that need. They are safe. We have people already trained to maintain these kinds of planes. We have an existing supply chain in Canada to support this purchase and we are able to do it relatively quickly with first delivery being the beginning of next year.

In parallel to that, we have begun a process to purchase 88 fighter jets to replace our aging fleet. We issued a request for expressions of interest in becoming a supplier. The supplier list has already been released publicly. We have five of what I would say are partnerships of governments and businesses that have been identified.

We required that governments also partner with companies because of the confidential and sensitive nature of the technology in these planes, so we do not find ourselves in a position where, although a company might be interested in selling their wares, our government would not be interested in sharing the technology.

So we have five governments — actually four governments, because two are from the U.S. — and five companies now partnering with us in the supplier process to identify and work at identifying their supply chains, their partnerships and their consortiums.

We will be in a position at the end of this year on working with those to develop and launch a request for proposals for the beginning of next year. So early in 2019, we will put out that RFP. We have heard loud and clear from the industry that they needed this time as much as we did, and perhaps even more so, in order to get their consortiums together. We want to make this procurement process as competitive as possible. We want to set everybody up to be with us at the end of this, and certainly, if they choose at any point not to be, it won’t be because of anything we had done.

People jokingly call me the minister of process, but I began to wear that hat with a bit of pride because I am very committed to this being an open, transparent and fair process.

In terms of giving you the timelines for this procurement, senator, I think we can do that. I don’t know what form that will take but we can work with your office and get that information to you as quickly as possible.

Business of the Senate

The Hon. the Speaker: I know honourable senators would like to join me in thanking Minister Qualtrough for being with us today. Thank you, minister.


Criminal Code
Immigration and Refugee Protection Act

Bill to Amend—Second Reading

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Ataullahjan, seconded by the Honourable Senator Andreychuk, for the second reading of Bill S-240, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (trafficking in human organs).

Hon. Ratna Omidvar: Thank you, Senator Richards, for your remarks. I will be sure to go back to revisit the Hansard so I can absorb the wisdom of your words one more time.

You did point in your speech, though, to a core problem here, and that is the fact that in Canada we don’t seem to be as active in signing those donor registration forms. Compounding that problem is the fact that our organ donor registries are all provincial. So let’s say someone in B.C. needs a kidney and the kidney is available in Ontario, and there is an issue of timely management and coordination.

My question is around the bill that you are speaking to, which I think is a symptom of the problem, which is lack of organ donations and lack of coordination.

Do you think there is anything the federal government can do to break down these barriers that are intrinsic and systemic to the question the bill is addressing?

Hon. David Richards: Thank you for the question.

I’m not sure. As long as it remains in the provincial domain and if it falls under federal mandate in the legislation, are we then infringing on people’s individual rights? What they are suggesting, for instance, in Ontario, is that if you don’t sign an organ donor card but don’t stipulate that you’re opposed to it, then they will be able to take your organs.

Some doctors think that this is an infringement on human rights and are a little queasy about this. I don’t know what other provinces have this or are using it but I do know that most of the provinces have a great dearth of organ donors. People just don’t sign. Many times, they forget, or they still feel queasy about it.


I’m not really sure if there is any one way to alleviate the problem.

I don’t know, however, if that is the main reason for transplant tourism. I think people with access to money and the ability to travel sometimes feel this is the easiest way to do it; rather than wait and stay in line, they feel that this is the easiest way to do it, and they come home with problems, HIV or other things.

So it probably would alleviate some of this tourist trade, but I’m not sure it would completely eradicate it.

Senator Omidvar: I have another supplementary. Do you think that it would be useful to consider a national public awareness strategy on both proactive registration with the organ registry and also be warning Canadians about the physical, moral and spiritual dangers, as you pointed out, of going overseas to shop for organs?

Senator Richards: Of course I would. The problem is that, many times, these people aren’t known to have gone overseas until they come back. A lot of times they come back and are infected with HIV or get a diseased kidney. The doctors are morally obligated because of their profession not to report this to the police — or at least a lot of doctors don’t feel comfortable reporting this action to the police, so they don’t do it.

A national awareness program would be the thing to do. Because of the terrible tragedy in Humboldt and that young boy who donated his organs last week, I think there is a heightened awareness now, far more so than there was two or three weeks ago.

The Hon. the Speaker: Are honourable senators ready for the question?

Hon. Senators: Question.

The Hon. the Speaker: It was moved by the Honourable Senator Ataullahjan, seconded by the Honourable Senator Andreychuk, that this bill be read a second time.

Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Motion agreed to and bill read second time.)

Referred to Committee

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, when shall this bill be read the third time?

(On motion of Senator Martin, bill referred to the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights.)

Trans Mountain Pipeline Project Bill

Second Reading—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Black (Alberta), seconded by the Honourable Senator Bovey, for the second reading of Bill S-245, An Act to declare the Trans Mountain Pipeline Project and related works to be for the general advantage of Canada.

Hon. Richard Neufeld: I rise today at second reading of Bill S-245, An Act to declare the Trans Mountain Pipeline Project and related works to be for the general advantage of Canada.

I thank Senator Black for introducing this bill. Although I am the critic of this bill, it will come as no surprise that I’m fully in favour of it. This is the fourth time within a 10-week span that I speak to Kinder Morgan’s proposed Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project. Last month, I spoke to my Trans Mountain motion, and I was delighted that it was unanimously adopted by the chamber. During my remarks, I focused on pipeline and tanker safety, two issues at the forefront of this debate. I know some of you missed it, so I encourage you to check it out in Hansard. I’m confident you’ll find it informative.

Honourable senators will remember that Senator Tkachuk initiated our emergency debate on the current impasse in early February, which was quickly followed by my motion. I think it’s fair to say that senators on our side have been a strong voice for this project and have been putting pressure on the Trudeau government. Conservatives believe in this project and will continue to defend and promote it. Meanwhile, it took the House of Commons two and a half months to finally have an emergency debate last night. We, in the Senate, led the charge.

For obvious reasons, I will not repeat what has already been said about the project. Most of us are familiar with the chronology of events. However, since I last spoke, there have been a few developments.

Ten days ago, Kinder Morgan issued a statement announcing that it is suspending all non-essential activities and related spending. It declared that under current circumstances, specifically including the continued actions in opposition to the project by the Province of British Columbia, it will not commit additional shareholder resources to the project. In other words, Kinder Morgan is telling the governments involved in this current political impasse that they have until May 31 to come to some sort of agreement that may allow the project to proceed.

Essentially, Kinder Morgan is seeking assurances: It wants clarity on the path forward, particularly with respect to the ability to construct through B.C., and it wants adequate protection for Kinder Morgan shareholders.

Two days after the announcement, the federal cabinet met in Ottawa for an emergency meeting.

The government is 100 per cent behind this pipeline. It’s important for Canada. It was made in the national interest. We believe this is important for all regions of the country. We stand behind our decision.

That was said by Minister Carr when leaving the meeting.

We also know that Minister Morneau met with Premier Notley the following evening in Toronto. Finally, it was only after increasing pressure that the Prime Minister decided to make a pit stop in Canada on Sunday to meet with Premiers Notley and Horgan between his visits to Peru and Europe.

David Akin from Global News reported on Tuesday on Trudeau’s change of heart. When asked why the PM decided to return to Canada, he said:

I think it became very clear that the level of polarization around this debate required significant measures. I wanted to be able to sit down with the premier of British Columbia, the premier of Alberta together and discuss issues of the national interest and demonstrate the federal government’s commitment to getting this project built. I think there is a need for action.

Well, better late than never, I guess. It took our national leader over three months to realize this was a national crisis.

At his post-meeting press conference on Sunday, the Prime Minister said that he has “instructed the minister of finance to initiate formal financial discussions with Kinder Morgan, the result of which will be to remove the uncertainty overhanging . . . the project.” The Prime Minister also informed Premiers Notley and Horgan that the government is “actively pursuing legislative options that will assert and reinforce the government of Canada’s jurisdiction in this matter.” Is he not aware that Bill S-245 is currently before the Senate?

I can only assume that the Prime Minister’s ongoing lack of leadership is what motivated Senator Black to introduce Bill S-245.

The purpose of this bill is to ensure that the Trans Mountain pipeline project and any works related to it are not frustrated or delayed. Bill S-245 declares the project to be for the general advantage of Canada.

As Senator Black said during his second reading speech:

. . . this bill will provide a foundation for federal action. What we have heard, and what we continue to hear today, is that the Government of Canada has clearly indicated by words their intention. However, we need to create a situation where action can be taken to advance this project, which is in the general interest of Canada.

Senator Black also argued, and I agree, that “It will also send a clear and certain signal that the Parliament of Canada values this project and recognizes it’s in the interest of Canada.” I would argue that it could also help reassure Kinder Morgan.

Lots has already been said about the project. Today, I want to focus on how Trans Mountain is indeed for the general advantage of Canada, which is at the heart of what this bill seeks to achieve. I will address the increasing global demand for fossil fuels, the economic benefits of the pipeline, Canada’s overall economic competitiveness and address some of the opposition to this project.

During our emergency debate, Senator Woo reminded us that a transition from fossil fuels to renewable resources is currently taking place on a global scale. He suggested that this matter “hasn’t been given enough attention.” I am happy to address that.

For two years now, the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources has been studying the transition to a lower-carbon economy. Believe me, committee members are well aware that the transition is happening. I think it’s safe to say that committee members support reducing our greenhouse gas emissions and finding ways to combat climate change. Personally, I strongly support greening our economy where and when it makes sense.


New technologies in all sectors of the economy will help us get there. But reducing emissions will also be expensive. It will hit Canadian consumers, households and businesses right in the pocketbook. Don’t get me wrong, I also know that inaction will lead to additional costs.

During our public hearings, our committee also learned that the demand for fossil fuels will increase — all at a different pace and peaking at various stages.

I agree with Senator Mitchell when he said that the green shift is changing our world and consumer behaviours in some ways. However, where I disagree with our colleague is when he suggests there may be less demand for fossil fuels. While I appreciate the influence of market forces on the energy sector, projections from distinguished organizations show that fossil fuel demand, namely oil and natural gas, will continue to rise for the foreseeable future.

In its 2017 World Energy Outlook, the International Energy Agency suggests that global energy needs will expand by 30 per cent between today and 2040, which is the equivalent of adding another China or India to today’s global demand.

The good news is that renewable sources of energy are expected to play a larger role in future demand. Oil demand also grows, and natural gas use rises by 45 per cent. BP’s Energy Outlook 2018 attributes half of that demand to China. But by 2040, fossil fuels will still account for 77 per cent of energy use.

In fact, in 2018, the world consumes oil at a rate of 97 million barrels a day. That number will reach 105 and even maybe more by 2040 according to the IEA. The National Energy Board projects, based on certain assumptions, that Canada’s daily crude production will be 6.3 million barrels by 2040, up from 4 million barrels a day in 2016.

While it’s clear the world is changing, as Senator Mitchell reminded us, oil will still play a prominent role in our society for decades to come, which is why Trans Mountain needs to be built. Canada would be foolish to stop extracting oil and exporting it to new markets.

Now, I appreciate some want to keep all fossil fuels in the ground, but the reality is we depend on these resources for more than driving our cars and heating and cooling our homes.

Consider this: An estimated 6,000 products rely on oil and gas. Only about half of the 97 million barrels of oil used every day is for transportation. The rest is used by petrochemical plants, jet fuel, bunker fuel, lubricants, heating oil and other products.

As an example, the Trans Mountain pipeline ships 300,000 barrels of oil a day. The expansion project would increase that to 890,000. Terminals in Kamloops and Burnaby both serve as hubs for local distribution and use. In other words, the car that the environmentalists drove to the protest could have been powered by Trans Mountain fuel. Of course, they also drove to the protest on asphalt, but that’s beside the point, of course. And on their way to the protest, they likely came across dozens of those 6,000 items that contain or were made thanks to fossil fuels.

At the end of the pipeline is the Westridge Marine Terminal in Burnaby, located within the Port of Vancouver. It is capable of accommodating tanker ships — currently only five a month — but it also ships jet fuel to the Vancouver International Airport. That’s right, honourable senators. Oil from the Trans Mountain pipeline fuels the planes that bring me here every week with other fellow parliamentarians from the West, including the leader of the Green Party of Canada.

I think David McKay, President and CEO of RBC, said it best a couple of years ago:

. . . Canadians are polarized about oil and gas when we should be focused on how cleanly we can produce it, how safely we can transport it and how wisely we can consume it.

Now, I have a few words about the economic benefits of Trans Mountain.

I think it’s important to remind everyone that Kinder Morgan, a publicly traded company, is investing $7.4 billion of private funds into this project. Granted, that number may change depending on the outcome of Minister Morneau’s talks with the proponent. They have already spent over $1 billion. And if construction ramps up after May 31, they will be spending upwards of $300 million a month.

I acknowledge that the following numbers have been contested, but Kinder Morgan suggests that oil producers would see $73.5  billion in increased revenues over a 20-year period. Federal and provincial governments would see nearly $47  billion in additional taxes and royalties from construction and 20 years of operation, higher producer revenues and additional tanker traffic. Imagine all the highways we could pave, the hospitals we could build, and investments in public transportation and school energy efficiency retrofits.

In terms of jobs, based on a Conference Board of Canada report, Kinder Morgan estimates that the project could create an equivalent of 15,000 construction jobs and the equivalent of 37,000 direct, indirect and induced jobs per year of operation. And let us never forget that people from across this country work in the oil sands, even if they reside in Vancouver or Burnaby.

Some have argued that the number of construction jobs is only 20 per cent of that amount. That’s still 3,000 construction jobs. Regardless of the number, there is no doubt that the economic spinoffs of this major Canadian energy infrastructure project are massive, including billions in extra government revenues and thousands of good-paying, family-supporting jobs. But if Trans Mountain doesn’t move forward, these jobs are at risk, as is Canada’s reputation.

This brings me to another issue I want to address: Canada’s shrinking competitiveness and our lack of appeal to foreign investors. In recent months, some multinationals have essentially said, “Thanks but no thanks” to Canada’s natural resources. Shell and Chevron have divested themselves of their Canadian oil sands portfolios. PETRONAS has cancelled a proposed $36 billion LNG facility on the West Coast. While I appreciate the influence of market forces, as Senator Mitchell describes it, we also know that fossil fuel demand is increasing worldwide. So why are these companies packing up?

The answer is definitely multi-faceted, but at the heart of it is the fact that Canada is no longer seen as a safe place to invest. There continues to be too much uncertainty and volatility in Canada. And it’s taking too long for these major projects to get the green light. Don’t get me wrong; I believe in conducting in-depth analyses, environmental assessments and broad consultations for new projects. I am not suggesting otherwise.

Meanwhile, energy investments continue abroad. Canada has been sidelined and is probably viewed as an uncertain, unpredictable place to invest, particularly in light of the new reality in the United States.

Now the Trudeau government claims that its new environmental omnibus bill, Bill C-69, will fix that, but I’m not convinced, and industry isn’t either. We’ll have an opportunity to discuss that bill later.

Suffice it to say, I feel that our rich resources are being held hostage. Governments, like the minority B.C. NDP government that is holding on to power thanks only to the support of three Green Party MLAs, and environmentalists are using obstructive tactics to delay the construction of nation-building energy projects.

I understand why some people are against this project. I am not oblivious to the risk, although small, of extracting, piping and shipping bitumen. As I discussed in my previous remarks, tanker and pipeline safety is top of mind for everyone. If you want to learn more about these issues, all honourable senators are invited to come and meet industry leaders on April 24 during our tanker and pipeline safety awareness session on the Hill, right here in the Aboriginal room.

I’ve been in politics long enough to understand that consensus is nearly impossible to achieve. Compromise is usually the way to go. But many simply refuse to put a bit of water in their wine.

Case in point: Last month after the Senate adopted my motion on Trans Mountain, I received a nice e-mail, which I want to share with you.

You’re going to hell . . . ! Hope you drown in a pool of bitumen or in pleural effusion related to carbon emission induced lung cancer. You don’t represent Canada or Planet Earth — just greedy Texan and Albertan oil interests. I guess you see it as your duty to harm mother earth as much as you can before you leave this world. Hope you don’t have children or grandchildren who will have to live in the earth whose desecration you promote. Shame on you!


I wanted to share this lovely email with you just to make a point. Nowadays, it seems that as soon as someone speaks in favour of any energy-related project that may produce greenhouse gas emissions, they’re labelled as anti-environment. I think that’s a real shame. I would describe the Prime Minister as an environmentalist, and yet he supports Trans Mountain. That, to me, makes sense. It is possible to care for the environment and want to reduce our carbon footprint and support the oil industry too.

I support Trans Mountain because I see the big picture. I suppose the Prime Minister does too. I also support wind farms and solar panels, and I believe in the environmental benefits of a developing LNG industry in B.C. to help reduce global emissions, but, again, despite the fact that LNG could displace coal in Asia and reduce electricity emissions by about 40 per cent in some markets, I’m labelled as an anti-environmentalist or a destructionist.

Prime Minister Trudeau rejected the Northern Gateway pipeline but approved the Trans Mountain pipeline, and environmentalists are up in arms about the issue. There is no room for compromise with most environmentalists.

But environmentalists and governments, including the B.C. government and the City of Burnaby, seem determined to use every tool in the toolbox to stop the project. Thankfully, the record shows that the federal government’s decision to approve this project is holding up in court. As National Post columnist Claudia Cattaneo pointed out last month:

Since 2014, the court has ruled in Trans Mountain’s favour 14 out of 14 times in cases challenging the regulatory review process or decisions related to the project, according to Kinder Morgan Canada . . . . Yet, the string of legal failures hasn’t discouraged pipeline opponents from continuing to threaten more lawsuits. With so many tools having failed, the new strategy seems to be to throw mud on the wall to see if anything sticks.

Cattaneo then addresses the NEB’s most recent March 26 decision.

The latest case to misfire involved the province of British Columbia supporting Burnaby’s denial of municipal permits to stall construction at the pipeline’s marine terminal. When the company asked the NEB to intervene, Burnaby blamed Trans Mountain of incompetence. It lost. The NEB ruled that Trans Mountain could ignore Burnaby’s permits and start building, confirming federal jurisdiction supersedes local bylaws.

Bill S-245, some may say, is symbolic in nature, but it would confirm Canada’s jurisdictional authority on the matter.

Before I conclude, I thought it would be a fun exercise to go back in time, to go back to the good old days, the days when Stephen Harper was Prime Minister, when Senator Carignan was the Leader of the Government in the Senate and when Senator Mitchell was an energetic Liberal opposition senator. I think he still is an energetic Liberal member.

I have very fond memories of Senator Mitchell grilling Senator Carignan on Keystone XL. For your pleasure, honourable senators, allow me to share some of those exchanges.

In February 2015, Senator Mitchell said the following, when asking the government leader a question on Keystone:

It’s not a surprise, of course, that the Prime Minister always seems to blame somebody else for everything that goes wrong, and certainly much goes wrong under his regime.

. . . this very Prime Minister who claims that Canada is an energy superpower, has been unable to get approval for a single major pipeline project that would diversify our energy markets, which are so badly needed to be diversified? . . . What is it that would suggest to anybody that he’s remotely competent in the file?

That’s right; the person who claimed that Prime Minister Harper was unable to approve any single major pipeline project was waving his finger at him for his failure to diversify our markets. Clearly, Senator Mitchell forgot that Northern Gateway was approved by the previous government.

Well, Senator Mitchell, despite what you may claim, you are part of the government’s arm in the Senate now? Will you start asking those same questions of your leader?

Prime Minister Trudeau cancelled Northern Gateway, which would have diversified our market. He is legislating a tanker moratorium on the West Coast, despite strong opposition from First Nations, and he stood idly by and allowed Energy East to fail.

Senators who were in the chamber in February 2015 may also remember this statement by Senator Mitchell. There are so many; I just had to pick a couple.

I’m the one who is saying it’s . . . Prime Minister [Harper] who should have been working to overcome whatever obstacles there are [with respect to the pipeline]. That’s why we’re paying him the big money, to get a pipeline built that’s needed to be built.

Further, Senator Mitchell argued that it was up to the Canadian Prime Minister to create the relationship and the momentum needed to engage in the debate in the United States so that he could convince the American people and the American President to allow Keystone XL to be built. Senator Mitchell said:

It’s not Mr. Obama’s fault. It’s called leadership. It’s Mr. Harper’s fault. Mr. Harper has to take responsibility for not getting the job done.

During the same exchange, Senator Mitchell asked the government leader about the Energy East pipeline. He said:

Do you think it would be a good idea if maybe the Prime Minister thought to meet with all the premiers at once to decide what to do about the pipeline?

He then asked Senator Carignan:

He could bring them together, build some momentum, create some leadership — or has he forgotten what leadership really is, or did he even ever know?

Senator Mitchell should be asking his leader the very same questions. The Prime Minister has shown zero leadership on this matter since January, until about two days ago. Even his most recent trip to B.C. and Alberta, which was long overdue, failed to get any concrete results. It took him months to visit B.C. and Alberta, and it seems he just recently figured out that meeting the premiers in person might be a good idea. Shame on him for allowing this to go on for so long. Of course, it doesn’t surprise me, and so I ask: Why are we paying him the big bucks?

Senator Mitchell, perhaps you might want to recycle that vigour and intensity you demonstrated back in 2015 when in opposition and shift it towards Prime Minister Trudeau. Ask him the tough questions. The Prime Minister has an opportunity to show real leadership, what you claim Prime Minister Harper never had. But, of course, up until two days ago, the Prime Minister showed no leadership whatsoever on this file beyond telling Canadians the pipeline will be built.

Kinder Morgan can no longer tolerate any more delays, distractions or disorder on this matter. The chamber has already unanimously shown its support for the project, with my motion urging the Prime Minister to bring the full weight and power of his office to ensure that Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain expansion project gets completed on schedule.

The Prime Minister suggested on Sunday that he is considering introducing legislation to reassert federal jurisdiction over the pipeline. Bill S-245 does just that. We have an opportunity here in the Senate to keep the momentum going and put pressure on the government. Let’s do him a favour and get this bill into the other place as quickly as possible so that we can put an end to this political impasse. I urge you to support the bill and send it to committee immediately.

Hon. André Pratte: Honourable senators, the Trans Mountain pipeline project is for the advantage of Canada. I believe a large majority of senators share this view. Therefore, this is not the question before us. The question before us is whether Parliament should assert this fact in law by way of Parliament’s declaratory powers provided by section 92(10)(c) of the B.N.A. Act. We should only pass Bill S-245 if we think it will improve the chances of the pipeline being built and help governments and stakeholders find a lasting solution to this crisis.


I want to see the Trans Mountain pipeline built. As such, I will vote against Bill S-245 because I am convinced it would not help resolve the impasse. On the contrary, I think passing the bill would exacerbate tensions between opponents and proponents of the project.

As the world transitions towards less carbon-intensive sources of energy, it is in our nation’s economic interests that we export our oil to new markets. Blessed with such huge hydrocarbon reserves, no country in the world would keep them in the ground. We must exploit these resources while meeting our GHG emissions reduction targets, protecting our environment and meeting our obligations towards Indigenous peoples. This is the context in which the Trans Mountain pipeline should be built.

Faced with the May 31 deadline set by the promoter, Kinder Morgan, Senator Black, opposition leader Senator Smith and Senator Neufeld insist that we pass Bill S-245 as early as possible. So let’s think this through. What are the consequences of the federal government using its declaratory power?


In the 1993 Ontario Hydro case, the most recent Supreme Court ruling on this issue, Justice La Forest wrote, and I quote:

A work subject to a declaration thus falls within the exclusive legislative power of Parliament, and provincial jurisdiction over the work is ousted.

This suggests that once such a declaration is made, the matter is settled once and for all. The province, which in this case is British Columbia, and the municipalities, such as Burnaby and Vancouver, become powerless. However, things are not so simple, either legally or politically.

Let’s look at the legal side first. As Justice La Forest says, and I quote:

Laws of general application in the province (such as taxation) . . .

— and environmental laws, we can assume —

. . . will, of course, apply to the work, but these cannot touch an integral part of Parliament’s jurisdiction over the work.

Justice Iacobucci, supported on this point by a majority of the Court, wrote, and I quote:

. . . the federal principle should be respected nonetheless. Parliament’s jurisdiction over a declared work must be limited so as to respect the powers of the provincial legislatures but consistent with the appropriate recognition of the federal interests involved.


Let me repeat what Justice Iacobucci wrote, supported on this particular point by a majority of the Supreme Court justices:

In my view, the federal principle should be supported nonetheless. Parliament’s jurisdiction over a declared work must be limited so as to respect the powers of the provincial legislatures but consistent with the appropriate recognition of the federal interests involved.

The court was split four to three on this point, and this was 25 years ago. Who knows how the court would deal with this issue today?

Consequently, to think that the federal government’s resorting to its declaratory power will end the legal argument on this matter is, in my view, extraordinarily optimistic. British Columbia will continue to attempt to assert its legislative and regulatory powers and the issue will end up in court, undoubtedly before the Supreme Court.

As a matter of fact, nothing will have changed. The federal government already has jurisdiction over interprovincial pipelines under section 92.10(a). Senator Black believes his bill will ensure that the federal jurisdiction also applies to ancillary works. The senator said:

. . .if we were to pass this legislation, all local roads, local bridges, power connections, storage facilities and anything related to the construction, operation or maintenance of the pipeline becomes the jurisdiction of the Government of Canada.

However, Supreme Court jurisprudence already makes it clear that under section 92.10(a), anything that is “functionally integrated and subject to common management, control and direction” with a project is within federal jurisdiction.

The declaratory power is not immune to litigation, as some would like to think. In reality, the window is wide open for litigation. I fear that in passing Bill S-245, we would be providing a whole new array of delay tactics and stratagems for the Government of British Columbia to take advantage of.

For instance, Bill S-245 provides that “The Trans Mountain Pipeline Project and related works are declared to be works for the general advantage of Canada.” Of the many declarations to date, we have found only one that attaches the words “related works” to the object of a declaration. The example we found is recent, from 2014. This seems to be a new trend in wording and has not, to our knowledge, been tested before in our courts. Provincial legislatures would be right to be concerned with the expression “related works.” How far does this go? To what extent does the provincial jurisdiction cede before the scope of unidentified related works? These are important questions that a government with delay in mind could readily explore at length in front of the courts.

Therefore, honourable senators, it is, in my view, simplistic to assume that a declaration would magically award the federal government with absolute jurisdiction over Trans Mountain and related works. The declaratory power is subject to challenge. The most recently contested case involving the declaratory power took 31 months to deal with in the Supreme Court alone. So much for resolving the legal stalemate.

Resorting to the declaratory power will not solve the political impasse, either. In my view, it risks making it worse. What was up until now essentially an argument about the environment will be combined with a quarrel about provincial rights. Who really believes that this will make the B.C. government more amenable to finding a solution? If the federal government resorts to its declaratory power, British Columbia will resist. It will resist by asserting its jurisdiction. It will resist in front of the courts. It will resist in the streets. It will resist on the construction sites. If the federal government resorts to its declaratory power, dozens of Indigenous communities that oppose this project will continue to fight it. Some First Nations leaders have predicted a new Oka crisis.

In support of Bill S-245, Senator Smith stated, “Action speaks louder than words.” This is true, of course. However, it does not mean that any action is warranted. What the current situation requires is more of what makes this country work, not less. More federalism, not less. The declaratory power is the least federalist measure a central government can take. Some have called it the nuclear bomb of the federal government’s arsenal.


Constitutional scholar Andrée Lajoie, an expert on this issue, wrote that the declaratory power is a very serious threat to the genuinely federal nature of the Canadian Constitution.


Renowned constitutional law professor Peter Hogg has commented that the federal Parliament’s power under section 92.10(c) is in conflict with classical principles of federalism.

Honourable senators, the Senate’s mission is not to push for extreme solutions but to provide sober second thought, considering our role in representing regions and under-represented groups such as Indigenous peoples. Urging the federal government to resort to its declaratory power before it has exhausted all other options is the exact opposite of sober second thought; it is agitated second guessing.

The action required here is not chest thumping but federal-provincial diplomacy. It is for the government to do this, not the Senate.

I hope that Sunday’s meeting between the Prime Minister and the premiers is the first of many meetings, not the last. As long as there is a chance that these discussions would produce results, we should not do anything that might jeopardize their successful outcome.

As the Prime Minister said before leaving Lima, Peru, “The federal government has a responsibility to bring Canadians together . . . .” I presume “Canadians” also means people from British Columbia.

As you know, the Prime Minister announced on Sunday that the federal government is “. . . actively pursuing legislative options that will assert and reinforce the Government of Canada’s jurisdiction in this matter, which we know we clearly have.” My understanding is that this will not involve the declaratory power. In any event, it would be premature to adopt Bill S-245 before we even know more about what the government has in mind.


I said the present situation requires more federalism, not less. This applies to the federal government, but it also applies, of course, to the Government of British Columbia. Federalism is about strong regions, but it is first and foremost about a strong union from which all Canadians benefit. Compromise is what makes the coexistence of strong regions and a strong union possible. Arguing that the only satisfactory protection against oil spills is to refrain from building Trans Mountain is not a reasonable position.


If Bill S-245 is not passed, does this mean that the Senate is powerless? No. The Senate can play a useful role. As the Supreme Court set out in its 2014 ruling, the Senate’s role is to represent the regions and to serve as a forum for groups that are under-represented within federal central institutions.

So far, in this case, we have failed in our responsibilities. Mostly, what we have done is keep repeating that the pipeline project should move forward. We were essentially lecturing British Columbia and ignoring the Indigenous communities.

The motion that we adopted on March 20 does not even mention the concerns of British Columbia or those of the Indigenous peoples. Yet, their concerns are valid. When the Senate adopted the motion that evening was it responsibly playing its role? I was in the chamber that evening. I said nothing. I failed in my duty.

A month later, as the crisis was getting worse, what did we do to make ourselves useful? At the very least, before coming to the conclusion that the Government of Canada should immediately invoke its declaratory power, we should have met with representatives and residents of the provinces, municipalities and indigenous communities concerned.


If Parliament passed Bill S-245, the Government of Canada could not be granted additional powers. The legal dispute would still take years to resolve. British Columbia would continue to try to assert its jurisdiction. More than ever, thousands of British Columbians and Indigenous persons would oppose the project in the streets and on the construction sites. The uncertainty that the promoter so fears would persist. In short, the chances of the pipeline getting built would not be improved at all.

Bill S-245 is not a solution; it’s an illusion. It would do nothing to resolve the legal issues involved and it would intensify the political crisis.

The Senate’s duty is to go out and listen to what the people of Alberta and British Columbia and the Indigenous peoples of these regions have to say. Our duty, enriched by what the citizens of these provinces and the rest of the country tell us, is also to apply sober second thought to the problem, to propose reasonable, moderate solutions that are acceptable to Canadians and respect the federal nature of our great country. Do such solutions exist? They must.

Although these unfortunate tactics have certainly been tried, we have never resolved problems in Canada by strong-arming or blackmailing other parties. Canada was born out of negotiation and persuasion and has evolved and endured through negotiation and persuasion. This is the road the Senate of Canada, the voice of regions and of under-represented groups should explore. It may be a long and winding road, but it is the only road that leads to lasting solutions in a country as vast and diverse as ours.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Senator Woo, do you have a question?

Senator Pratte, your time is up. Would you like more time?

Senator Pratte: Just to answer questions, yes, please.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Are you agreeable, honourable senators?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Hon. Yuen Pau Woo: Thank you, Senator Pratte, for your learned speech. You make a very compelling case that Bill S-245 will not only not solve the political impasse, but it could have a backfiring effect by exacerbating the differences on the two sides of the debate and prolonging any court challenge, which surely would follow if the declaratory powers were articulated in the way that’s being proposed.

You didn’t say as much, though, about the commercial impasse, which some proponents of the bill are now putting forward as the principal reason for this bill, as opposed to the political impasse. That, of course, is a new development that came up after the bill was first introduced when Kinder Morgan, as we all know, dropped their nuclear bomb by saying if they don’t get some kind of assurance by May 31, they might have to take further non-action.

In some ways, Bill S-245 is almost intended for Kinder Morgan more than for the Canadian people. I would like you to comment on whether you think this bill might make any difference to the commercial impasse or if, indeed, it might have the same boomerang effect of even worsen our commercial image in the world because of unintended consequences.

Senator Pratte: My understanding is that the promoter is giving satisfactory answers to two questions. They want a clear path forward and they want to mitigate the risks for their shareholders.

Now, if Bill S-245, or whatever legislation the government puts forward that reaffirms the federal government’s jurisdiction over the pipeline, is satisfactory to them that the legal path is cleared, I believe they would be very naive. But if that’s satisfactory to them, okay.

The other part of it, of course, is what the promoter is asking for to alleviate the risk to their shareholders. I would agree that what I propose — that is, federal-provincial diplomacy — would have been better deployed earlier than at this particular point, but I still believe there is time. Therefore, although I’m not too keen on having public money involved, I believe at this point we probably don’t have much choice to gain some time. Whether it is with additional legislation or without, I don’t believe we can really have a clear path forward before May 31 without having some public money involved.

Senator Neufeld: Would the senator take another question?

Senator Pratte: Yes.

Senator Neufeld: Unless I misunderstood, you talked in your speech about further consultation with people and individuals that are both opposed and for it. I’m sure you are aware that that discussion has been ongoing for longer than three years. That’s when the application was made for the pipeline, but prior to that there was lots of discussion.

I also know, or I’m told, that 51 First Nations have signed benefit agreements with Kinder Morgan, 41 of those in British Columbia and 10 in Alberta.

How long do you think the government should actually continue to negotiate with people who are opposed to it rather than finally getting on with it? Actually, polls show that most British Columbians are in favour of it. The reason is because of a political promise that Mr. Horgan made during an election, saying he would oppose it to the end, and he has the agreement with Mr. Weaver, who is opposed to all fossil fuels.

When you take that into reality, when you really think about it, who can be the person, and how much longer? Can Mr. Trudeau, the Prime Minister, magically go in there and fix that between those two people? Or should the government start negotiating with everyone again? There needs to come an end to some of this stuff when things have to happen and move forward.

I know Kinder Morgan quite well. I know Ian Anderson very well. He is a patient man and has worked very hard on this project. So tell me, how long do you think government should continue to talk with people who are absolutely opposed regardless of what you did?

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: The time is up, Senator Neufeld.

Do you require another five minutes or are we done?

Senator Pratte: If possible, I would like to answer this question.

Senator Plett: Just this question.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Are you agreed, honourable senators?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.


Senator Pratte: We would all like this to end as early as possible. My point is that I don’t think an end will come through this legislation. I think you will have litigation, you will have demonstrations and unless you decide to send the army in, you will not see the end with this legislation. So you don’t have a choice to try to have as large a number of people in British Columbia agree with the position.

I don’t know what polls you have seen, but the polls I have seen recently indicate that people in British Columbia are pretty much divided on this issue. This Government of British Columbia was elected with a very clear commitment. People had a choice: They could choose between a party that was favourable to this pipeline or a party that was against the pipeline. They elected a party that was against the pipeline.

Senator Plett: No, they didn’t.

Senator Neufeld: That’s wrong. They formed a coalition afterward.

Senator Plett: They elected a Liberal government.

Senator Martin: It was a coalition.

Senator Pratte: Yes, I’m sorry, but that’s the democratic process. It’s a democratic process still. They are in government now. As far as I have seen in the polls, people are either a slight majority or divided on this issue. I haven’t seen a majority in favour of the pipeline.

My knowledge of Canadian history shows that every time a federal government has tried to impose something on a region, it hasn’t worked. You have to negotiate and try to get the largest consensus possible. Total consensus is not possible, but trying to impose something on an important province like British Columbia doesn’t work. I do not believe it would work in this case, and it hasn’t worked in other cases either.

Senator Plett: Question.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Are senators ready for the question?

Some Hon. Senators: Question.

Hon. Marc Gold: I move to take the adjournment of this debate in my name.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: It is moved by the Honourable Senator Gold, seconded by the Honourable Senator Harder —

Senator Plett: We already called the question.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: — until the next sitting of the Senate.

Is it your pleasure honourable senators to adopt the motion?

Senator Plett: No.

Some Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: On the motion to adjourn, those in favour of the motion will please say “yea.”

Some Hon. Senators: Yea.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Those opposed to the motion please say “nay.”

Some Hon. Senators: Nay.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: In my opinion the “nays” have it.

And two honourable senators having risen:

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: Is there agreement, or will there be an hour bell?

Senator Mitchell: Fifteen minutes.

Senator Plett: Thirty minutes.

Senator Mitchell: I’m agreeing.

The Hon. the Speaker pro tempore: The vote will take place at 5:32.

Call in the senators.


Motion agreed to on the following division:

The Honourable Senators

Bellemare Hartling
Bernard Jaffer
Black (Ontario) Lankin
Boniface Marwah
Bovey Massicotte
Boyer McPhedran
Campbell Mégie
Cools Mercer
Cordy Moncion
Cormier Munson
Coyle Omidvar
Day Pate
Duffy Petitclerc
Dupuis Pratte
Gagné Ringuette
Galvez Saint-Germain
Gold Sinclair
Greene Wetston
Harder Woo—38

The Honourable Senators

Andreychuk McInnis
Batters McIntyre
Beyak Mockler
Boisvenu Neufeld
Carignan Ngo
Dagenais Plett
Doyle Poirier
Eaton Raine
Frum Richards
Griffin Seidman
Housakos Smith
MacDonald Stewart Olsen
Maltais Tannas
Manning Unger
Marshall Wallin
Martin Wells—32

The Honourable Senators

Black (Alberta) Mitchell—2


International Mother Language Day Bill

Second Reading—Debate Adjourned

Hon. Mobina S.B. Jaffer moved second reading of Bill S-247, An Act to establish International Mother Language Day.

She said: Honourable senators, I rise today to speak on the second reading of Bill S-247, An Act to establish International Mother Language Day.

Bill S-247 is a legislative proposal to designate the twenty-first day of February as “International Mother Language Day.” For greater certainty, international mother language day is not a legal holiday or a non-juridical day.

This bill does not dispute that English and French are Canada’s official languages. On the contrary, English and French are the two official languages of Canada as guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

I would like to thank the member of Parliament, Mr. John Aldag, for his tireless work on Bill S-247. It is a real pleasure to work with him. Honourable senators, this bill is a result of his hard work.

I would like to begin by sharing a story of Heeba. Now in her late 20s, she immigrated to Canada from Bangladesh in 1992. She shared her perspective on multilingualism as her own cultural identity.

She said:

It is incredibly important for me to communicate in my Bengali mother tongue with my family. During my time at university, I always had German and French roommates, and would seize the opportunity to practice with them.

I have noticed people highly appreciate it when I make the effort to talk to them in their first language. My friends light up when I speak to them in Bengali, Nepali, Hindi and Spanish. I also speak perfect English and French.

Learning new languages runs in the family, as my father speaks Italian and Mandarin and my mother is also fluent in German. I’m incredibly proud to speak Bengali, my mother language. I took Bengali classes at university to learn how to read more academic pieces of writing like poetry. Bangladesh has given me so much in terms of culture, and I would absolutely want my own children to speak my mother tongue of Bengali, on top on many other languages. It is very difficult of me to attach myself only to one language. I am more than one language, and so are a lot of Canadians.

Honourable senators, English and French bilingualism makes our country unique. Bilingualism forms the foundation of Canadian identity and is one of the greatest legacies we can pass on to future generations. However, multilingualism differs from bilingualism as it implies languages other than English and French. Multilingualism is the ability to speak multiple languages.

For some, it is the capability of expression in both English and French, as well as many other languages. For others, multilingualism means speaking one of Canada’s official languages, as well as other languages, especially in their mother tongue. Despite the fact that their mother tongue is neither English nor French, many Canadians speak a multitude of languages that enrich our culture and our country. I speak on behalf of many Canadians, including some of you sitting here today, when I say I can express myself in many languages. I speak Gujarati, Kutchi, Swahili, Hindi, English and French and a little bit of Spanish.

Honourable senators, to date, there is no recognition of our multilingualism. Let us change this. Canada is home to over 200 languages, and together we can celebrate our language speaking strengths. To demonstrate how valuable languages are, I would like to share a statement from the United Nations:

Languages are the most powerful instruments of preserving and developing our tangible and intangible heritage. All moves to promote the dissemination of mother tongues will serve not only to encourage linguistic diversity and multilingual education but also to develop fuller awareness of linguistic and cultural traditions throughout the world and to inspire solidarity based on understanding, tolerance and dialogue.

Honourable senators, linguistic diversity benefits Canada in many ways. Multilingualism preserves cultural and linguistic heritage, it strengthens us as Canadians, since it is at the root of our identity, and it distinguishes us from other countries around the world.

First, multilingualism has significantly shaped our country, and continues to grow as children thrive to learn other languages aside from French and English, given by a parent as cultural heritage.


Over 200 languages are spoken in Canada. From Spanish to Punjabi to Tagalog, from west to east, Canada is home to a wide range of languages and cultures.

In my province, British Columbia, multilingualism is growing at lightning speed. In Vancouver alone, over half of all school-aged children are learning another language besides French and English. Similarly, among all of Canada’s large urban centres, Vancouver has the highest number of residents, specifically 25 per cent of its people, whose first language is neither French nor English.

According to an analysis released with the 2016 census, it has been shown that large cities in Canada have a different profile in terms of the languages spoken. Apart from English and French, Arab is the most common language spoken in Montreal, while Tagalog is the most common in Calgary, and Chinese languages like Mandarin and Cantonese surpass all others in Toronto and Vancouver. Across the country, over 1.2  million people have Mandarin or Cantonese as their mother tongue. That represents an 18 per cent increase in the past five years. Honourable senators, as I speak to you today, 7.7 million Canadians speak a mother tongue other than English or French in their homes.

Moreover, many studies have been published on the benefits of learning several languages and of multilingualism. These days, more and more parents are speaking to their children in their first language.

A resident of Vancouver, Jens Von Bergmann, has said that parents are being encouraged to pass down their mother tongue to their children. Mr. Von Bergmann speaks German to his young son, while his wife speaks to the child in her first language, which is Mandarin. The cultural reality in Mr. Von Bergmann’s family is just one example among so many Canadian families.


With so many families encouraging their children to learn many languages, multilingualism is not a foreign concept in our country. It is who we are.

Therefore, Bill S-247, An Act to establish International Mother Language Day, acknowledges the contribution languages make to a diverse and multicultural Canadian society. Multiculturalism and multilingualism create a wide range of opportunities, especially for young Canadians.

Honourable senators, I would like to share the story of Joshua. Joshua’s story resonated with me, as my children and grandchildren are also multilingual. Joshua is a young student from Vancouver of Filipino origin whose first language is Tagalog. I asked him what it means for him to be multilingual. His answer struck me. He responded:

To me, multilingualism has many meanings, but namely three key points: first, the prospect of a better future through increased career choices and higher wages. Second, the opportunity to sow deeper friendships and connections with people of other cultures through the study of their language, culture and history. And lastly, the chance to see the socio-political events from the point of view of people outside your borders through interacting with foreign people in their native tongue.

Joshua, who is only 21 years old, is passionate about learning international politics and speaks over eight languages. In school, he also learned two Aboriginal languages, Inuktun and Inuktitut. Joshua told me he would like his future children to learn Tagalog because he wants them to be able to grow up speaking their mother tongue so that they can understand their identity. Joshua would like his children to have an open and compassionate mind of their own towards different cultures and philosophies. Joshua believes this compassion towards others can be achieved with communication and trust, gained through languages.

Honourable senators, when I was the Canadian envoy to the Sudan, it never ceased to amaze me that when I went to refugee camps, I would see young Canadians working in the Sudanese refugee camps speaking fluently in Arabic. They gained the trust of the refugees, and they played a pivotal role as camp coordinators.

Honourable senators, there are great opportunities for our young people if they speak many languages. Today, many young Canadians truly believe in the power to understand each other through languages. I have encouraged my own children to learn as many languages as possible in school and to speak with me in our mother language at home. My children also want their children to understand and learn their mother tongue. It is their identity.


Honourable senators, International Mother Language Day is not only a day to highlight heritage languages in Canada; it is also a day to preserve cultural and linguistic heritage.

We also must never forget that Aboriginal languages must be acknowledged. They are also part of our Canadian identity. Canada is proud of its language diversity, including those of our First Nations. More than 60 different Aboriginal languages are spoken across Canada. Many more Aboriginal languages have disappeared. Every time a language disappears, a part of our identity disappears. Sadly, of the 60 registered Aboriginal languages, only four are considered to be safe from extinction.

British Columbia is home to more than half of Canada’s native languages. However, only one in 20 Indigenous people in the province are fluent in their language, and almost all of them are elders. Many of these languages date back thousands of years, but today we have allowed them to teeter on the verge of extinction. This is unacceptable.

Honourable senators, language preserves who we are as Canadians. It preserves our identity; it provides us with an identity. In fact, Heeba’s and Joshua’s stories touched me as they made me think of my own. As an African and an Indian woman, I came to Canada with my unique knowledge of languages. I came to Canada wanting and willing to learn both official languages, but I never forgot my own roots and cultural heritage. The linguistic attachment I have to my own culture gives me a great sense of pride and joy. It is who I am.

Multiculturalism and multilingualism go hand in hand, and both give the cultural richness Canada has.

Just last fall, Toronto officially had more than 50 per cent visible minorities. We cannot pursue being a true multicultural nation if we do not recognize the multilingualism in Canada. Finally, multilingualism not only has a role in individual cultural identity, but it also plays a key role in international trade. The ability for Canadians to be more and more multilingual grows as our country seeks more and more trade routes, which is the significant advantage of our international trade. The importance of language diversity gives Canada a distinct advantage in the world.

Many of our citizens are able to use their heritage languages to build bridges from our country to others around the world, increasing our trading capacity.

By mastering the art of linguistic diversity, we are able to understand a broader cultural philosophy and the way of living that creates friendship and trust among our peers worldwide.

In our very competitive and globalized world, we must ensure that our citizens have all the tools they need to succeed in the future. It is no longer sufficient for Canadians to gain access to new markets with only one or two languages.

Canada needs to promote the preservation of heritage languages. As a country that has enshrined multiculturalism into our Constitution, it is important that we recognize the benefits of our diversity and promote multilingualism as a means to access the entire world.

Every Canadian, and the cultural heritages they bring to our country, is key to our openness and understanding of one another. Undoubtedly, multilingualism promotes peace, cooperation and respect for one another, both nationally and internationally.

Designating International Mother Language Day would put us in line with our international partners as this day is already celebrated around the world, although it is not officially observed in Canada. It was formally established by a unanimous vote at the thirtieth General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization in November 1999. Celebrations have occurred ever since on February 21.

Some Canadian provinces, such as Ontario and British Columbia, already recognize International Mother Language Day by hosting events in their provinces. To name a few, last year, the Canadian Language Museum in Toronto highlighted International Mother Language Day with a day of family-friendly activities such as crafts and a language-themed scavenger hunt. There was also a group reading in English and French of The Best of All Worlds, the first multilingual children’s storybook. Also part of the festivities to highlight multilingualism, a Mother Language Festival organized by Mother Language Lovers of the World Society took place at Bear Creek Park in Surrey, British Columbia, last summer. I was proud to see an outdoor festival where children and adults in my province of British Columbia gathered to share their heritage, to enrich multiculturalism and linguistic diversity.

Although initiatives like these offer a sense of pride and rich cultural engagement, each Canadian has their own attachment to, and definition of, multilingualism. I’m particularly amazed at seeing young people being active in learning languages, besides already speaking English, French and Spanish sometimes.

Before I conclude, I would like to tell you the story of an ice-breaking game with young children at a boys and girls event. As an ice-breaking game, all children had to name one superpower they wish they had. Mika, a 6-year-old boy in French immersion, said he wishes his superpower was to be able to speak any and every language in the word so that he can make a lot of friends to play hide and seek with. It warmed my heart to witness a young boy wanting to learn languages to laugh, play and build friendships.

Honourable senators, there is a growing need to embrace linguistic plurality. Canada’s identity is made up of a mosaic of languages and cultures, all combining to form a unique and vibrant multicultural community.

International Mother Language Day is also a day to celebrate the freedom to communicate in the language of our choice. I am and always will be a strong advocate of Canadian bilingualism. Let me once again remind all of you that Bill S-247 does not take away from our proud French and English bilingualism; it simply encourages all Canadians to celebrate and showcase their own mother tongue on February 21.

Through languages, we build relationships. We build trust. We build understanding. We build history. Through languages, we share stories. We share spirituality. We share compassion. We share humanity.

Without a doubt, multilingualism would not exist in Canada without multilinguals. Honourable senators, I want to share a story with you. When I first came to Canada, I did not speak French, and I was really amazed at how, in my province, there wasn’t the enthusiasm to learn French. If you were English-speaking, you just wanted to be English-speaking. Then, when I went to Quebec, some people just felt that they needed to learn French.

I was really amazed by these silos. Why do we have to speak one or the other? Why is it important that we just speak one language? One of my proudest moments in the Senate has been that it has enabled me to learn to speak French. It’s still a work in progress. My other proudest moment is that I’m a member of the Official Languages Committee. Senator Smith and I are both members of the Official Languages Committee. We both received a letter from a woman — I won’t say what province — who was concerned that French is becoming too strong in her province.

I want to say to you, senators, that it is not about learning one language or another language. It is about teaching our children many languages. We are a very small country, and if we don’t stand up and give opportunities to our children to learn many languages, we are handicapping our children. It is not anymore about learning French and English. It is a given that every child in Canada should learn French and English, and, if I were the Prime Minister, which I never will be, and I had that super fairy ring with which I could order people around, I would say it should be French, English and Spanish. If we are going to exist in the Americas, we all should be speaking French, English and Spanish. That should be a given.


Honourable senators, I ask you to support this bill not because I am so committed to this, but because we have to widen the way we think. We have to think about the more languages we speak, we don’t stay in silos. The more languages we speak, we give our children greater advantages. We come to understand each other better, and we will play a greater role in peace around the world. So I ask you to think about why it is important that we speak many languages. That is what Canada is all about. Thank you very much.

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, it being 6 p.m., rule 3-3(1) requires that I leave the chair until 8 p.m. unless we agree not to see the clock. Is it agreed that we not see the clock?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(On motion of Senator Omidvar, debate adjourned.)

Senate Modernization

Tenth Report of Special Committee—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the motion of the Honourable Senator Joyal, P.C., seconded by the Honourable Senator Cordy, for the adoption of the tenth report (interim), as amended, of the Special Senate Committee on Senate Modernization, entitled Senate Modernization: Moving Forward (Nature), presented in the Senate on October 26, 2016.

Hon. Leo Housakos: Given that this motion is on its fourteenth day, I would like to adjourn it for the balance of my time in my name.

(On motion of Senator Housakos, debate adjourned.)

National Finance

Budget and Authorization to Engage Services and Travel—Study on Federal Estimates Generally—Twenty-seventh Report of Committee Adopted

The Senate proceeded to consideration of the twenty-seventh report of the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance (Budget—study on federal estimates and on government finance generally —power to hire staff and to travel), presented in the Senate on March 29, 2018.

Hon. Percy Mockler moved the adoption of the report.

The Hon. the Speaker: Is there anything on debate?

Hon. Grant Mitchell: I will take this opportunity to do some explaining. The reason that we’re here today talking about this or at least considering this — talking about it now because I am — and several other motions to follow is because I refused to give unanimous consent when they arose on the last day before the break.

I surprised some people. I surprised and dismayed others by doing that, and I surprised and dismayed and angered still others by doing that. The reason I felt I had to do it was I had hoped that these four requests for money for travel for committees while the Senate would be sitting would have come up at CIBA earlier that day. However, because CIBA ran out of time this did not occur, and I felt these needed to be given greater consideration than they could be at that time that afternoon.

I was very sorry to have caused that dismay, but I had a few things that I needed to say, and I would like to say them now.

First of all, I am concerned that we are seeing more and more travel by committees while the Senate is sitting. If I’m not mistaken, when I arrived here and for a number of years after, it used to be that most of the travel by committees outside of the city of Ottawa was done during break weeks, during the summer break, during the January break, and so on, so that it didn’t conflict with the work being done in the chamber.

Moreover, it’s interesting to remember and to note that we go to some lengths to avoid having committees of the Senate sit while the chamber is sitting. I value that for many reasons, and one of those reasons is that it makes us very different than the House of Commons. The House of Commons has debates when there is just a handful of people in it sometimes because they meet as committees during their session. We don’t tend to do that, and in fact you have to get special permission to do that.

I think it is a tradition that is also confronted and affronted to some extent by virtue of having committees travel. It’s with that in mind that I want to specify there is a theme in discussion over the time that I’ve been here that somehow the committee work is the real gem of what the Senate does. I don’t deny that committees do great work — not for a moment would I deny that. But I do find trouble with that argument if it implies in some way that that is more important than what goes on in this chamber. It all starts in this chamber, and as much as the committee does very effective work, the fact of the matter is that the chamber is where you debate at a much higher level often because it’s the nature of the debate at second reading and at third reading — not to diminish the debate in committee. There are moments when this chamber is at its best and literally the debate here soars. We see it often, and, fortunately, in the not-too-distant future the Canadian people will get a chance to see it.

If we allow people to travel while the Senate is sitting, we are diminishing the importance of the Senate, the importance of the debate in the Senate Chamber and the importance of voting in this chamber on government legislation — and I think we should be more intense about deciding to vote on private members’ bills and senators’ public bills as well. I don’t want to see that diminished. I want to see that elevated.

Honourable senators, it’s with that in mind that I continue and will continue to argue that we should not be travelling as committees except during very special circumstances, the argument being made deliberately and effectively by the chair or the deputy chair, or whoever it is. The implication is that committees should focus on travelling during break weeks, during summer breaks and winter breaks, and so on. We need to maintain and sustain the importance of this chamber and the importance of votes.

If you get a number of committees beginning to travel and random choices made by members as to who will travel and who won’t travel — and that happens — then all of a sudden votes can come down to random chance — who was here and who wasn’t here, who decided to travel and who decided not to travel.

I don’t think any of us were appointed to come here to do anything but apply our judgment and certainly not leave that to chance.

Hon. Percy Mockler: In the spirit of cooperation, the members of the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance are looking forward to a trip to the Miramichi with respect to the study on the Phoenix pay system.


I completely agree with Senator Mitchell. I would like to inform senators that our trip to the Miramichi Pay Centre is scheduled for Sunday, May 6, and Monday, May 7. The Senate is not sitting on those two days. Rest assured, Mr. Speaker, that we will return Monday evening and be present for Tuesday’s sitting of the Senate. Thank you.


The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Motion agreed to and report adopted.)


Fisheries and Oceans

Budget—Study on Maritime Search and Rescue Activities—Tenth Report of Committee Adopted

The Senate proceeded to consideration of the tenth report of the Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans (Budget—study on Maritime Search and Rescue activities, including current challenges and opportunities—power to hire staff and to travel), presented in the Senate on March 29, 2018.

Hon. Marc Gold moved the adoption of the report.

He said: Senator Manning couldn’t be here because we have American guests appearing before our committee.

Let me begin by saying that I wear a number of hats, first and foremost as a senator, but also as the liaison — thank you, call me by my name.

I share Senator Mitchell’s concern about the increasing practice of committees travelling during sitting days and sitting weeks, and I could not agree more. In this particular case, there is a certain urgency and importance to this particular trip. We’re at the tail end of a very major study on Maritime search and rescue. We visited the East Coast, West Coast and have gone abroad, but we have not visited our third coast, the Arctic, the area most under-resourced in terms of marine search and rescue assets.

There is a very limited window to visit the North. Our former colleague Senator Watt advised us that between weather constraints and hunting season constraints, there are literally just a few weeks during which we would have access to the people both for gathering information and public hearings that we believe we owe the people of the North.

That said, in my discussions with my colleague Senator Manning, we make every effort to minimize the time away — perhaps only one sitting day, leaving on Sunday. Perhaps we could even — although I can’t promise — be away for no sitting days, because the travel time is rather long.

Mindful of that, though, I would respectfully ask for support for this motion. This is our one and only chance to visit the people of the North before our study would be completed. I would undertake, and I’m sure my colleagues would agree, that were we to go, it would be a balanced delegation. In that regard, I think we would be treating all of our colleagues, caucuses and groups fairly.

With that, I respectfully ask for your support.

Hon. Donald Neil Plett: I would like to add a few words to what Senator Gold said. I will call myself by my name, Senator Don Plett, whip of the Conservative caucus and proud to be that.

I concur with Senator Gold that this trip is very important. I am also on the Fisheries Committee, and I am also very conflicted. As of right now, I do not plan on travelling on this trip, but I support it because the Arctic is important. As the Trans Mountain Pipeline Project is important, this is important. Both should be moved rather quickly. I support that we do this.

As the Conservative whip, I would like to assure Senator Mitchell, even though he has 60 people in his caucus and we only have 33, that we will do our best not to defeat any legislation during that period of time, and we will indeed cooperate and maybe have as many people travelling as the Liberal and independent caucuses send.

Again, I would encourage us to support this motion.

Hon. Lucie Moncion: I would like to add that when the subcommittee was looking at travel, they also looked at the dates to make sure that no two committees were travelling at the same time. There was a concern about what Senator Mitchell raised.

I just wanted to bring to your attention that when the committee was looking at this, they were also cognizant of the work that needs to be done in the Senate and to try not to have two groups travelling at the same time.

Hon. Nicole Eaton: I would like to ask a question, if that’s possible, Your Honour.

Senator Gold, could you explain why Fisheries? The Arctic committee is not going to the Arctic, but why is Fisheries? In going to the Arctic, what is the goal of your study?

The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, we need leave to go back to Senator Gold. Is leave granted?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Senator Gold: Our study concerns marine search and rescue. As you may know, fishing is one of the most dangerous occupations in Canada. Although we are painfully under-resourced on all of our coasts, the North is probably the area where there are the most inadequate assets, whether it’s Coast Guard assets or others.

We have heard from numerous witnesses over the course of our study that this is an area currently in dire need of attention. The situation will only get more extreme as more cruise ships and ecotourism finds its way into northern waters.

The object of this study, which is really toward the tail end, is to assess the adequacy of our Coast Guard and other assets, including volunteer, to properly protect Canadians at sea. The North is an area we and the experts who have appeared before us believe is one that really needs to be attended to. I hope that answers your question.

Hon. Jim Munson: Honourable senators, I would like to reinforce what Senator Gold has said, sitting on the Fisheries Committee. We have travelled outside of Senate sitting times to travel to Europe. Also, listening to former Senator Watt, he made it very clear to all of us that there is a timeline here, and we plan to have hearings. Hearings take up a lot of time to put together, especially in another language; we would have three languages. A lot of folks who will be home will have to come to Iqaluit to see us, and we think that we owe it to the people of the North for two days to go up and finish our study.

I just wanted to add my support to Senator Gold.

The Hon. the Speaker: Are senators ready for the question?

Hon. Richard Neufeld: I have a question also. How much of the Arctic are you going to see? Are you just going to Iqaluit? Is the game just the eastern Arctic and you’re not doing anything in the west?

Senator Gold: I apologize for not having the details of the trip before me. I believe we’re only going up for two days to Nunavut. We will not be canvassing the entire Arctic, that’s for sure, but we do have meetings scheduled with the Rangers and local members of the community at least in one or two areas there.

Senator Neufeld: Why wouldn’t you do a trip that encompasses the whole Arctic, or is that the only part of the Arctic that’s important that you’re going to see? If you’re putting out a report on the Coast Guard and those kinds of things for the whole Arctic, the western Arctic is also part of Canada.

I’m on the Arctic Committee, and we seem to actually focus on the eastern Arctic only. This is confirming, with the Fisheries report, that the committee is just going to go to the eastern Arctic.

All I’m doing is reminding you that there is a lot more to the Arctic than just the eastern part.


Senator Gold: Indeed. Thank you for underlining that point. The point is not lost on us either, but with limited resources both time and financial, decisions had to be made as to how to get there and back in a timely fashion. We have been advised by the witnesses before us and by former Senator Watt that we would learn a great deal by going and, dare I be too cliché, the better should not be the enemy of the good here. We feel it’s important to get up North even if we’re seeing a small segment of it, and we hope that the Arctic Committee will no doubt address all of the issues of the North comprehensively.

The Hon. the Speaker: Are honourable senators ready for the question?

Some Hon. Senators: Question.

The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Motion agreed to and report adopted.)

Human Rights

Budget—Study on Issues Relating to the Human Rights of Prisoners in the Correctional System—Ninth Report of Committee Adopted

The Senate proceeded to consideration of the ninth report of the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights (Budget—study on the issues relating to the human rights of prisoners in the correctional system—power to travel), presented in the Senate on March 29, 2018.

Hon. Wanda Elaine Thomas Bernard moved the adoption of the report.

The Hon. the Speaker: Is it your pleasure, honourable senators, to adopt the motion?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

(Motion agreed to and report adopted.)

Increasing Overrepresentation of Indigenous Women in Canadian Prisons

Inquiry—Debate Continued

On the Order:

Resuming debate on the inquiry of the Honourable Senator Pate, calling the attention of the Senate to the circumstances of some of the most marginalized, victimized, criminalized and institutionalized in Canada, particularly the increasing overrepresentation of Indigenous women in Canadian prisons.

Hon. Wanda Elaine Thomas Bernard: Honourable senators, this inquiry stands adjourned in the name of the Honourable Senator Sinclair. I ask that it remain adjourned in his name after my intervention today.

The Hon. the Speaker: Is leave granted, honourable senators?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

Senator Bernard: Honourable Senators, I rise today to speak to Inquiry No. 19, calling the attention of the Senate to the overrepresentation of Indigenous women in Canadian prisons. Thank you to Senator Pate for bringing this issue to the attention of our colleagues and for her tireless work bringing justice for Indigenous women across Canada.

The disproportionate representation of Indigenous women incarcerated in Canada and the rising numbers of Indigenous women in Canadian prisons is an urgent human rights issue that must be addressed immediately.

Last month, for International Women’s Day, many of us posted on social media and attended events celebrating the strength and resilience of women. I gave a presentation on violence against women for the Pictou County Sexual Assault and Women’s Resource Centre. I urged the attendees to consider that the roots of violence come from an intersection of colonialism and sexism. This inquiry addresses this intersection, as Indigenous women live at the intersection of sexism and colonialism.

When we hear about intimate partner violence or familial violence, I think that the hearts of most Canadians go out to the women impacted because this type of violence is seen as individual violence.

When we discuss incarcerated individuals, our society typically does not have the same empathy due to discourse around crime and presumptions of innocence or guilt. I urge honourable senators to consider how sexism and colonial violence have created this normalized form of violence: the over-incarceration of Indigenous Women.

When the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights was in Kitchener on our fact-finding mission last month, we met with many people who shared their experiences working with incarcerated women during the public hearing. We were then able to speak with some of the women themselves who are incarcerated in Grand Valley Institution. We heard from people whose perspectives have been informed by many different experiences: researchers, service providers external to the prison, service providers within the prison, and prisoners themselves. A major theme across many of these meetings was the injustice faced by Indigenous women.

Senator Pate’s inquiry is an important step to address the sharp increase and overrepresentation of Indigenous women in the criminal justice system, and I believe that examining practices within the prisons that impact these women is an important part of this issue.

I suggest we view this issue with a two-fold approach: How to prevent future overrepresentation through preventative measures, but also how to address the present situation for women currently incarcerated. We need to consider carefully how these two points are linked. Without considering how current conditions impact future recidivism and future incarceration of the next generation, we are missing a piece of the solution. This inquiry is a much-needed step in the direction of interrupting the cycle of incarceration that penetrates and devastates Indigenous communities.

One of the witnesses in Kitchener identified an issue that occurs specifically when women are incarcerated. She said that when a woman is incarcerated, her whole family is impacted. Families suffer when a mother is incarcerated because the children are more likely to be placed in care.

Indigenous families are already impacted by the intergenerational trauma suffered from the impact of residential schools, the Sixties Scoop and involvement in the child welfare system. When a maternal figure — whether she is a mother, grandmother, sister or aunt — is incarcerated, entire families suffer the impact as another form of colonial violence.

The first part of the two-fold approach is addressing the root causes of the overrepresentation. These causes are on a systemic level: racism, sexism and colonialism. These root issues have created circumstances of poverty, abuse, trauma and mental health issues that sometimes result in crime. This process of contextualizing the root causes will help us to understand how to improve preventative measures, like culturally relevant mental health services and poverty-reduction measures.

Senator Pate stated in her initial inquiry that jails are not substitutes for shelters or for mental health centres, nor are they alternatives for housing and social services. I wish to reiterate these points emphatically because I believe this is the underlying message we need to take away.

The average age of incarceration of Indigenous women is four years younger than the average age of incarceration of other women. This may be an indication of the unique systemic issues faced by Indigenous women that mean they are coming into contact with the law at a younger age than their non-Indigenous counterparts.

This is likely a reflection of the poverty, involvement in the foster care system and intergenerational trauma from colonial violence including, but not limited to, the Sixties Scoop and residential schools. These factors diminish hope and limit opportunity available to young Indigenous women. These issues need to be addressed in ways that will create solutions.


The second part of my twofold approach is regarding injustices against Indigenous women who are currently or were previously incarcerated. These women who have been charged with crimes are unable to do the healing they need to be well, so they fall into patterns of recidivism, or what they call the revolving door syndrome. Some of these injustices include abuse of power from officials in the criminal justice system, challenges associated with their involvement with child welfare systems, lack of employment, housing and support after release.

The main concern of a social worker is what a client needs to be well and what they need to stay well once that is achieved. Prisons are not places conducive to healing and wellness. The reality is that incarcerated Indigenous women are dealing with significant mental health issues, linked with intergenerational trauma.

One of my areas of research is spirituality and well-being. When people are living through challenging circumstances, being able to access and practise their spirituality, their well-being and prospects of surviving and thriving are significantly improved. Being in touch with your own spirituality gives hope. Section 81 of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act came into effect in 1992, which is 27 years ago. There are services available to some Indigenous prisoners, such as healing lodges, access to smudging and sweat ceremonies, regular contact with elders and privileges to visit their community external to prisons.

One of my observations is that many women face incredible resistance in accessing what they need for their well-being. This can be due to security levels, that women who are placed in maximum security do not have the same access as women in minimum security.

In my career as a social worker and now as a senator, I have visited many federal prisons. At times, I think of the individual women I have spoken with over the years in these institutions and how some of their stories reflect the issues that perpetuate institutional violence.

There was one Indigenous woman I recall — I’ll call her R — who opened up about her healing journey during a meeting in a women’s facility. She told us how she wants to be connected with her community as part of her healing but consistently meets resistance and red tape. She was approved to have community visits, but due to staffing shortages, she has been told that her visits will not happen.

She would benefit greatly from social and spiritual connection with her community but is unable to do so. Without this community connection, this young woman continues to struggle while incarcerated and worries about how she will cope when she is released. She is at higher risk to experience worsened mental health issues, and with that could find herself being put under “observation” in segregation cells if her mental health declines to the point of self-harm or suicidal ideation. This is worrisome because this person is expressing a desire and motivation to get on track with her healing and wellness through connecting with her community, but she is unable to do so.

This disconnection is detrimental to her ability to reintegrate smoothly after she is released and could easily find herself among the high population of prisoners who return due to parole breaches and not being able to cope post-incarceration.

I give this example as one person whose struggles made a lasting impression on me. However, I regret to say that her situation is not unique. We have heard many similar stories during our fact-finding prison visits, as part of the Human Rights Committee study on prisoners’ rights. These individual cases add up to reflect a larger systemic issue. These intergenerational issues are cyclical and impact the ways families and communities function.

We made a commitment through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to address the historical injustices against Indigenous communities in Canada. Many of us know the harmful impact of residential schools on Indigenous communities. In the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report, we heard many accounts of how this trauma has created historical and intergenerational trauma for individuals, families and communities. I believe official apologies and acknowledgment of systemic harms are very important to creating change. We have seen apologies from many institutions regarding residential schools. Apologies are important to take responsibility for issues; however, without tangible actions and change, they do not have a great impact.

Honourable senators, I urge you to consider how the increasing over-incarceration of Indigenous women is a form of colonial violence that not only impacts the individual women but their children, their families and their communities. Addressing these issues is a key factor to improving the circumstances of poverty, trauma and violence faced by this population. The over-incarceration of Indigenous women is detrimental to the survival of Indigenous communities. This issue is urgent and needs to be addressed.

(On motion of Senator Sinclair, debate adjourned.)

(At 6:38 p.m., the Senate was continued until tomorrow at 2 p.m.)

Appendix—Senators List

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